Tsungai Chingombe, a junior studying chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at IUPUI Purdue School of Science, found her way into research through the Center for Research and Learning’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). “The idea of working in a lab and using real experimental apparatus to discover new ideas intrigued me,” says Tsungai. “It was a given for me. I wanted the experience. UROP allows me to work with a research mentor on a specific project, giving me the opportunity and platform to develop my academic and professional career through working in a lab. The program provides strong, commendable academic and professional networking with other professors and mentors in the field of research and allows me to present my work at professional meetings, enhancing my public-speaking skills and awarding me the opportunity to exhibit my work. Undergraduate research broadens one’s perspective on what the scientific world has to offer and provides various opportunities to excel in both the academic and the professional field.”
Tsungai works with her mentor, Dr. Mary Beth Brown, investigating the acute effects of treadmill exercise in a rodent model of pulmonary arterial hypertension. There is currently no cure for pulmonary arterial hypertension, but exercise could be a therapeutic intervention, improving endothelial function, exercise capacity and quality of life.
Speaking of her mentor, Tsungai says, “It has been exceptionally amazing working with her. She is so driven and has impeccable ideas of bringing solutions to diseased and disabled populations. Dr. Brown is always encouraging and provides a friendly environment for me to work in. She is not only involved in my research work, she takes time to mentor me about my ambition, interests and all else that I am working on. She truly has my best interest at heart and is always looking for nothing but the best opportunities for me to reach the heights of success.”
The praise goes both ways, as Dr. Brown states, “I frequently have to remind myself that she is an undergraduate, because she conducts herself in the lab with the professionalism and dependability of a far more advanced student.”
Tsungai most recently presented at the IUPUI Summer Research Program Poster Symposium and previously discussed her research findings at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Midwest Chapter Meeting, IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences First Interdisciplinary Research Conference, Physiological Society Annual Conference, Indiana University Undergraduate Research Conference (IUURC) and IUPUI Research Day. “Through presenting my work, I am amazed to see how much knowledge I have acquired. Presenting my work has awarded (sic) me the opportunity to meet so many other researchers, obtain new ideas and build networks that will further my endeavors in the future.” After completing her undergraduate studies, Tsungai will enroll in a PharmD-PhD program. She plans to practice clinically as a pharmacist as well as to conduct research on drug pathways and interactions.