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Meet undergraduate Melina Conrad

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Melina’s tattoo in memory of her mother

At a young age, Melina lost her mother to a battle with breast cancer. She wears the breast cancer awareness ribbon on her wrist with the word ‘love’ written across it. The letters are exactly as her mother wrote them to her in a letter years ago. Now Melina studies nutritional sciences in memory of her mother. Find out more about Melina’s experiences here at UConn.

What attracted you to UConn? I grew up twenty minutes away from UConn. When I was little, my parents would take me here to go ice skating or to walk around the campus. I went to community college before here, but once I found out what I wanted to do, my choices were between UConn and Saint Joseph’s. I chose UConn.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? I am majoring in nutritional sciences. When I was eleven, my mom passed away from breast cancer. I wondered if there was anything she could have done differently during her treatment that could have had a different outcome. Nutrition came to mind. My mom was my best friend; she was the one who always pushed me to put school first. I do all of this for her. (more…)

Meet undergraduate Caitlin Porter

Caitlin is in the Honors Program, which requires completing an honors thesis in research. In her freshman year, a meeting with her advisor, Dr. Hedley Freake, encouraged her to look for research opportunities as early as possible. Shortly after, she met with Dr. Christopher Blesso, who was new to UConn at the time. Caitlin began doing research in his lab the following semester.

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Caitlin Porter at the Fall Frontiers Poster Exhibition

Caitlin now enjoys seeing how nutrition works in the body at a deeper level. For the past year or so, Caitlin has been investigating macrophages, a type of cell involved in the inflammatory response. She uses macrophages to study the effects of sphingomyelin, a phospholipid, on inflammation. Caitlin is analyzing whether or not sphingomyelin could reduce the inflammatory response of macrophages in vitro.

What attracted you to UConn? I come from a small town and high school in New Hampshire. I liked that UConn was a bigger school and could offer opportunities in research and other areas. I also liked the atmosphere, sense of community and its proximity to home. (more…)