Medical students showcase Senior Scholars research

Presentation Day a celebration of scholarship and mentorship

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 11, 2012
  2012 Senior Scholars (from left) Mark O’Connor Jr., Anna Plourde and Justin Yee earned the highest scores for their posters at Senior Scholars Presentation Day.

The 41 posters on display during the annual Senior Scholars Presentation Day at UMass Medical School on May 2 addressed a broad array of biomedical disciplines and health care issues that reflect the varied special interests of the medical students who conducted the research, and the expertise of their faculty mentors. The day was also a celebration of mentoring itself, as senior scholars conducted their research projects with guidance from faculty advisors, many of them on hand to congratulate their mentees.


Currently under the direction of Judith Savageau, MPH, associate professor of family medicine & community health, the UMMS Senior Scholars Research Program is an educational enrichment elective for fourth-year medical students in which they conduct up to three months of supervised research with the sponsorship of a research faculty mentor. The program was established by the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education to be a tool for growth in an evidence-based health care environment. Nearly half of all School of Medicine students are now taking advantage of the Senior Scholars research opportunity.

The scholars have completed projects in all major fields of basic science, clinical medicine, epidemiology and public health. Many have presented their findings at local, regional or national meetings, which can serve as a platform for subsequent academic endeavors. Many senior scholars are also members of the UMMS Clinical and Translational Research Pathway, which requires a senior scholar project: 13 members of the Senior Scholars Class of 2011-12 are in the pathway.

In addition to the presentation and judging of posters, a formal program featured keynote speaker Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, chair and professor of psychiatry. Dr. Ziedonis, who has championed mentoring in his department and school wide, spoke about his personal experiences as a mentee and mentor, what to look for in a mentor, and the characteristics of a productive mentor/mentee relationship—all relevant to a program that relies on extensive involvement from faculty mentors.

The ceremony closed with the presentation of certificates to each senior scholar. The students who received the highest scores for their posters were:

  • Mark J. O’Connor, Jr., An Evaluation of Diastolic Function in Female Patients with Stress Cardiomyopathy, faculty advisor Gerard Aurigemma, MD, professor of medicine and radiology
  • Anna Plourde, Diagnostic Patterns and Immunohistochemical Stain Usage in Extended Core Prostate Biopsies: Comparisons Between Genitourinary Pathologists and Non-Genitourinary Pathologists, faculty advisor Christopher Owens, MD, assistant professor of pathology
  • Justin Yee, Precision Renal Ultrasound Screening for Nephrocalcinosis in Very Low Birth Weight Infants: A Single Center Study (2005-2010), faculty advisor Francis Bednarek, MD, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics & gynecology