After two years, with a long hiatus due to COVID, my time at TRIP is coming to an end. It is truly amazing to see how far I have come during my time at TRIP, from starting as a student who had no research experience or knowledge on how a wet-lab functions to a student who has a newfound love for research and her own research project which she is about to present to others. The hands-on research experience I was able to garner through this program, along with the amazing mentors and essential laboratory skills, has made TRIP one of the most influential parts in my career as a pursuing scientist.
Creating my independent project was a challenging task for me as there were so many routes I could take and so many questions that I could answer. The freedom TRIP provided to pursue any question we wanted was exciting, yet daunting as I really wasn’t sure what to do. I knew I wanted to do something that correlated with some aspect of my life, so my initial ideas were based on the idea of school and stress; however, my ideas seemed overused and way too general. I decided to take a step back and really analyze my life and my surroundings and suddenly inspiration struck: my mom and her new weight loss phenomena. At the time, my mom was consuming chia seeds every morning before work because she had heard somewhere online that it helped promote weight loss. I thought she was absolutely crazy as it seemed impossible that consuming a single food with no additional form of exercise could do anything, so naturally, I decided to turn to google to try and find some answers and what I found was shocking! There were a plethora of YouTube videos and articles claiming the exact same thing my mom claimed, but there was no actual scientific evidence that proved this phenomena, and right in this moment was when my idea was formed. I wanted to design an experiment that I quite honestly hoped would prove my mom and the internet wrong. I decided that I wanted to test the effects of chia seeds on weight loss and activity levels, and I also added the effects of cortisol, which is a stress hormone in our bodies, in order to see if there was any correlation between stress, weight, and activity and if chia seeds could mitigate the effects of it. Therefore, my final experimental question was “can consuming chia seeds without any additional activity increase weight loss? Additionally, can cortisol, a stress hormone, affect the flies’ weight loss as well as their activity levels?”
After running multiple trials for about 6 weeks, my data has proven that consuming chia seeds without any additional exercise do in fact promote weight loss and that weight loss does not correlate with one’s activity levels. I was honestly shocked by my results as they completely disproved my hypothesis and also proved that my mom was right afterall (sorry mom for not believing you)! I remember the first time I went through my experimental plan, I was so overwhelmed because I wasn’t sure if I could finish my experiments in a timely manner and still complete all of my assays thoroughly, but the constant support and guidance provided by Dr. Purdy and Dr. Leystra allowed me to remain confident in my skills and my project!