Undergraduate Student Research Fuels a Passion for Social Justice and EquityAbigail Parker | Undergraduate, Biology and Spanish | Biology Department From the IUPUI Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research Newsletter:
IUPUI senior Abigail Parker showcased her research at the Council on Undergraduate Research's (CUR) 22nd annual Posters on the Hill symposium in Washington, DC. This event took place April 17-18, giving students the opportunity to present research to congressional members, meet with their representatives and learn about advocacy for undergraduate research.
Parker, majoring in biology and Spanish, has a passion for social justice and fighting for equity. She hopes to use the privileges she’s had in her life as leverage to fight for those who don't have the same advantages. Since her freshman year at IUPUI, Parker has been studying Down syndrome and presented her research on the genetic disorder at Posters on the Hill.
"I'm fighting for individuals with Down syndrome to have the best possible life that they can."
The social-justice advocate entered IUPUI on a four-year scholarship through the Honors College. Parker was selected for the Bepko Scholars and Fellows Program, designed for students who demonstrate integrity, dedication, leadership and a commitment to service.
"The IUPUI Honors College has been a great resource. It sets you up for success because you're given more opportunities, an Honors advisor and a study space."
The IUPUI Center for Research and Learning (CRL) provided grants during both Parker’s junior and senior years. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) supports independent, faculty-mentored research and has allowed Parker to continue her investigation, guiding her to the elite showcase in Washington, DC, where she was the fourth student CRL has sent to Posters on the Hill since 2008
Each year, CUR selects 60 student research projects out of hundreds of submissions. After applying in fall 2017, Parker was excited to have been selected and represented IUPUI as the only student from Indiana University or the state at the event (https://www.cur.org/Assets/1/7/2018POTH_PostersPresenters.pdf). Accompanying Parker to Washington, DC, was one of her IUPUI mentors, Associate Professor of Biology Randall J. Roper, the 2011 laureate of CRL’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and Mentoring of Undergraduate Research.
As a double major, Parker is currently in the process of applying to medical school, her ultimate goal. She also is considering Teach for America, a national corps of leaders who commit to serving in low-income schools and work to increase their students' opportunities in life. She hopes one day to practice overseas, helping people who do not have access to healthcare.
Parker encourages everyone to, "research about Down syndrome and get involved in the community," as well as to petition their elected representatives for more funding for investigation into this disorder. While in Washington, DC, Parker hoped to, "advocate for undergraduate research and show them exactly what their money is doing and why it's so important that we continue."