Kristin Gerhardt

Kristin Gerhardt gains confidence through undergraduate research assistantship

Kristin knew she wanted more experience with her major on campus, but didn’t know where to look. After receiving an email about the Louise Rosenfeld Undergraduate Research Internship, she decided to start there.

“The position sounded like it would be a good opportunity to expand my experiences,” she said. “I emailed a bunch of professors, and got a response from one that was studying the effects of stress on the brain.”

At first, the idea of working for a professor intimidated Kristin. As she began her research assistantship with Peter Clark, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, she learned that confidence plays a large role in research.

“I felt like I needed someone beside me the whole time,” she said. “Being alone in the lab really helped me problem-solve and make decisions on my own.”

Even though her research scholarship period ended, Kristin continues to work in the lab as a volunteer. She loves learning how stress can affect a person’s brain chemistry, which directly applies to her career goal as a clinical dietician.

“I not only want to work with eating disorders, but also with weight management,” she said. “With that, you have to understand how it all works in the brain.”

Kristin is grateful she found the courage to meet with Clark about a research assistantship. Looking back on when she started to seek out research opportunities, she wishes she knew how friendly and approachable professors can be.

“I was so afraid of professors before, and getting to actually work with one makes you realize that you shouldn’t be afraid,” she said. “Just take the first step and email them, and hopefully one will respond.”