Research Ignited

Student Spotlight: Rishima Mathur Ignites Research on Social Media and CRISPR!

Research Ignited is thrilled to showcase the incredible work of one of our students, Rishima Mathur! Rishima exemplifies the power of our program to empower high school students to conduct cutting-edge research and make significant contributions to the scientific community.

Guided by her mentor, Dr. Marissa Seamon, Rishima embarked on a remarkable research journey, tackling two captivating topics:

  1. Social Media’s Correlation to Psychological Issues: This insightful research, whose manuscript was accepted and is published in the Curiex Journal (August 2023), explored the potential link between social media usage and psychological well-being in adolescents. Rishima’s work sheds light on this critical issue and paves the way for further investigation.

  2. CRISPR Technology for Parkinson’s Disease: Recent Advancements and Ongoing Challenges: Rishima’s current research delves into the exciting world of CRISPR, a revolutionary gene-editing technology with immense potential for treating Parkinson’s disease. Her work was accepted and currently under  publication in the STEM Fellowship Journal, promises valuable insights into this promising field.

Rishima’s accomplishments extend far beyond the publications themselves. The experience of conducting research has significantly enriched her academic journey. The skills she honed through Research Ignited, including critical thinking, data analysis, and scientific communication, were invaluable assets in her college applications. Rishima’s dedication and research experience undoubtedly contributed to her acceptance into a top US public university!

We at Research Ignited are incredibly proud of Rishima’s achievements. Her story is a testament to the transformative power of research and the incredible potential that lies within every high school student. Are you ready to ignite your own research spark? Visit to learn more about our program and how you can join our vibrant community of young researchers!

* Mathur, Rishima. “Pressures and Harm Surrounding Social Media and Photo Editing: Influences of Gender and Age at First Use.” Curieux Academic Journal, Issue 30, August 2023, p. 82.

Social Media is a significant part of many individuals’ lives, specifically teenagers and young adults. It is a way to communicate and keep in contact with friends and family who may live in different parts of the world. However, there are also many detrimental effects that have been seen to increase with social media use. Adolescents depend on social media for validation, which can lead to insecurities, loneliness, and other mental health issues. The purpose of our study was to research the correlation between social media use in young social media users and their effect on mental health issues and negative feelings. We hypothesized that social media use would have negative impacts on mental health. We performed a mixed method study with a survey, asking both qualitative and quantitative questions regarding their social media use. The voluntary, anonymous survey was posted on instagram and snapchat stories, with data collected over the span of four weeks. Our study found that adolescents that use social media sometimes felt left out or lonely when not engaged in social media, as well as felt pressure to look their best selves at all times on social media using filters and editing tools, which was especially evident for those who identified as genders other than male and started using social media before age fourteen. This could lead to many detrimental issues in the future such as anxiety and depression, and thus, social media use should be monitored in adolescents and potentially be avoided until mid to late teenage years.

* Mathur, Rishima. “CRISPR technology for Parkinson’s disease: Recent advancements and ongoing challenges.” STEM Fellowship Journal, Accepted for Publishing.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by decreased dopamine, resulting in impaired motor function. Various gene editing methods are used in PD research to understand the disease’s complexity and develop treatments. With no cure and limited treatments, it is important to understand the recent advances in PD research, particularly with new gene editing technologies. Therefore, we evaluated recent advancements in gene therapy and CRISPR technology in PD research, using  Pubmed to identify CRISPR use in PD research conducted within the past ten years. We compiled cell and gene therapy clinical trials for PD using, finding no current therapies approved for PD treatment, and CRISPR has yet to be incorporated in any clinical trials. We organized CRISPR technology used in PD research into three study types: animal models, stem cells, and cell culture. The studies reviewed involve research into genetic forms of PD and pathological hallmarks, such as α-synuclein accumulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cell death. Double or triple-transgenic models and induced pluripotent stem cells have been utilized more recently, contributing critical information to the understanding of PD. CRISPR is a powerful tool that has significantly advanced PD research. However, much research is still required to fully unravel the pathology and see whether CRISPR can be used in therapies to correct gene mutations and improve dysfunctional mechanisms across PD patients. Overall, CRISPR techniques for use in PD treatments are still in early development, being tested using cell and animal models that will hopefully move into clinical trials soon.

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