Summer research projects aren’t uncommon for students in Chapman University’s Schmid College of Science and Technology, but being accepted into every REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program that you apply to is. Vidal Arroyo, a third year biochemistry and molecular biology major, can proudly say that he did.
After applying to over 30 programs and being accepted to every one, Vidal decided to spend his summer as a part of Baylor’s SMART (the Summer Medical and Research Program Training) because he is able to “volunteer and shadow in a top academic hospital amidst [his] research commitments” and he was excited to work in pediatric cancer epidemiology.
He is currently working on two projects to gain more insight into factors that affect cancer survival rates. Vidal splits his time (1) working to identify a pattern of single-nucleotide polymorphism loci in childhood leukemia cancer survivors to see if there is correlation between obesity and cancer survival and (2) finding “differences in treatment and survival outcomes between adolescents/young adults (AYA) and adults older than 40”.
Vidal has been enjoying his time so far, and has been especially interested in the coding that he has been doing. Also a computational science minor, Vidal loves working on codes as part of his research, because the coding he creates “is used to discover new things”.
As an undergraduate at Chapman, Vidal knows that what he has learned so far at the school has helped him prepare for what’s ahead.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be at Baylor if it wasn’t for Dr. Melissa Rowland-Goldsmith. She first encouraged me to think about these programs when I was in her BIOL-208 (Introduction to Molecular Genetics Cell Biology) class, and she has been an incredible mentor since then. Also, the rigor of her BIOL-208 course has prepared me to think on my feet, which is oftentimes required in a scientific environment.”
Through these experiences, Vidal has felt more than ready for his internship.
The Baylor SMART program has helped open Vidal’s eyes up to the opportunities that he can pursue after graduating. When asked what he has learned so far through the internship, Vidal responded, “When I came to Baylor, I was on the fence of whether I wanted to pursue an MD/PhD or just a straight MD degree. MD/PhD programs are designed to produce physician-scientists, who are researchers that spend some time in the clinic treating patients. My time here made me realize that I love doing research and I want to spend most of time doing it.” Vidal plans on pursuing his MD/PhD degree in the future, but will take a gap year to two to keep exploring research opportunities.
When he’s not busy researching, Vidal likes to spend his time working as a Chemistry Supplemental Instructor (SI). He has spent a year as a general chemistry SI, and plans on being a organic chemistry SI next year.
His advice to anyone thinking about applying to an internship is to “start early…apply abroad… [and] to take the time” to find and apply to programs. It certainly helped him seal the deal on an amazing internship!