Rueda-Juarez ’21 Earns STRIDE Fellowship

The Association for Psychological Science chose Vikki Rueda-Juarez ’21 as one of 18 STRIDE (Short-Term Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research) undergraduate research fellows this year for her work this summer in Beth Bailey’s lab. 

She will also travel to Anaheim, Calif., in November to present her results at the 2019 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).  

STRIDE provides fellows with a hands-on research experience in the laboratory of an established APS member, professional development activities and an opportunity to present their research. Fellows participating in the STRIDE program are funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, whose mission areas include cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic and sleep disorder research.

Rueda-Juarez, who is from Trenton, N.J., said, “Research has been really rewarding. I’m following a path to a medical degree and coming here and taking advantage of and experiencing research as an undergraduate was something that was important to me.”

Rueda-Juarez was chosen from an international pool of applicants and was the only 2019 fellow performing research at a liberal arts college. This summer at Ursinus, she worked alongside Bailey, an associate professor of biology, to study the heart’s response to the physiological stress of pregnancy.

Rueda-Juarez’s summer project specifically focused on the impact of a high-fat Western diet and resulting obesity on the cardiac response to pregnancy. She and classmate Jake Menzer ’20 worked in Bailey’s lab as Ursinus summer fellows, presenting research at July’s summer fellows symposium.

“I’ve always been drawn to research and the adrenaline that comes with it,” she said. “Seeing it—and actually doing it—rather than reading about it in a textbook or memorizing it has been eye-opening. That’s been the advantage of being here at Ursinus instead of a bigger university. It’s given me this research opportunity.”

In addition to the research itself, the fellowship has allowed Rueda-Juarez to explore career opportunities and research ethics. She said her summer research project was her first hands-on research project and this fall’s trip to California will be her first research conference.