No one can accuse Biology major Rachael Cooper ’13 of failing to make the most of her time at Framingham State.
Cooper is a founding member of FSU’s Aspiring Health Professionals Club and will graduate this January with minors in Neuroscience and Spanish. But her most significant achievement occurred this past summer, when she traveled to Guatemala to conduct a professional research project that was approved and funded by the University.
“I learned not only scientific method, but also what goes on behind the scenes of professional research,” Cooper says of her experience developing the research grant proposal. “It’s been an invaluable experience.” Cooper’s summer-long research focused on the prevalence of intestinal parasites and the effectiveness of an oral treatment. She worked with a non-profit organization called Partners in Development, who she interned with during the previous summer after learning that they were setting up a lab in Guatemala.
During her first trip to the country, Cooper met another student from Yale University. The pair developed a close friendship and collaborated on the research project when they returned this past summer.
Cooper says about 500 people from three different villages participated in her research project. She analyzed levels of infection from a soil-transmitted parasitic worm, the prevalence of infection and how people responded to treatment. Her project required her to get approvals from the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, local schools and parents. “It was the busiest summer I’ve ever had, squeezing all this research into three months,” she says.
Her results will be presented at the University’s annual Biology Conference in December.
Cooper plans to attend medical school after graduation and hopes to go into family medicine. She is also applying for a Fulbright award to perform more research. She says she has enjoyed her time at Framingham State.
“Students who don’t go to larger school should never feel like they are at a disadvantage,” Cooper says. “I’ve gotten so much out of this place and am nothing but grateful.”