Research Ignited

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

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: 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. 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.

College Apps: Research Experience is Your Secret Weapon

College Apps: Research Experience is Your Secret Weapon College applications are a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve been working towards this goal for years, accumulating grades, test scores, and perfecting your essays. But with admissions becoming increasingly competitive, how can you ensure your application truly shines? The answer lies in your activities list, and there’s one standout contender: research. Why Research? Research isn’t just for science geeks in lab coats (although those are awesome too!). Research is about deep diving into a topic you’re passionate about, asking questions, and uncovering new knowledge. It allows you to develop critical skills coveted by colleges, such as: Critical Thinking: Research forces you to analyze information, identify patterns, and form your own conclusions. Problem-Solving: From crafting a research question to overcoming unexpected roadblocks, research teaches you to tackle challenges head-on. Communication: You’ll learn to explain complex ideas clearly and concisely, both in writing and orally. Time Management: Juggling research alongside schoolwork and other commitments requires excellent time management skills. Initiative and Independence: Researching independently demonstrates your self-motivation and ability to take ownership of your learning. Research for Everyone The beauty of research is its versatility. It can be applied to any field that interests you! Here are just a few examples: Biology: Study the effects of a particular excercise on resting heart rate. Chemistry: Develop a new recipe for biodegradable plastic. Literature: Analyze the recurring themes in your favorite author’s work. History: Research the impact of a historical event on your local community. Social Science: Conduct a survey to understand student attitudes towards remote learning. Political Science: Analyze the effectiveness of a specific policy initiative. Many schools offer research opportunities directly through science fairs or independent study programs. You can also reach out to local universities or professors to see if they have openings for student researchers. Don’t have access to formal research programs? No problem! Volunteer at a local organization whose work aligns with your interests. Offer to help them collect and analyze data for their projects. Conduct an independent research project at home. This could involve interviewing experts, conducting online surveys, or analyzing historical data. By demonstrating your initiative and curiosity, you can showcase your research potential even without formal programs. Make Your Research Stand Out Focus on a specific question: Your research shouldn’t be a broad exploration – have a clear, defined question you’re trying to answer. Document your process: Keep detailed notes, track your findings, and showcase your methodology. Present your work: Participate in science fairs, create a research poster, or write a paper summarizing your findings. Ready to ignite your research journey? Research Ignited ( is a one-stop shop for aspiring researchers like you. Our platform connects students with research mentors, provides access to resources, and helps you navigate the world of research from start to finish. Take charge of your learning, demonstrate your academic potential, and stand out from the crowd with research experience on your college application!

Stand Out From the Crowd: How Independent Research and Publication Can Boost Your College Application:

Stand Out From the Crowd: How Independent Research and Publication Can Boost Your College Application College applications are getting more competitive every year. So, how do you make yourself stand out from the sea of perfect GPAs and standardized test scores? Independent research and publication is a powerful tool that can showcase your intellectual curiosity, initiative, and academic potential to college admissions officers. Why it Matters: Demonstrates Passion and Initiative: Engaging in independent research shows colleges you’re not just someone who goes through the motions in class. You’re a self-driven learner who actively pursues knowledge beyond the curriculum. Highlights Specific Skills: Research hones valuable skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and communication. Publishing your work adds writing and information organization to the mix. A Glimpse into Your Future: Colleges want to see students who are a good fit for their academic environment. Research showcases your academic interests and aligns them with potential majors or programs. A Competitive Edge: Let’s face it, not many high schoolers take the initiative to conduct and publish independent research. This achievement sets you apart from the crowd and demonstrates a level of commitment that colleges value. Beyond the Publication: While a published research paper is impressive, the journey itself holds just as much weight.  In your application essays, highlight the challenges you faced, the skills you developed, and the lessons you learned throughout the research process.  This showcases your growth mindset and resilience. Getting Started: Find Your Passion: Research is most rewarding when it delves into a topic you genuinely care about. This fuels your motivation and makes the process more enjoyable. Seek Guidance: Talk to teachers, professors, or researchers in your field of interest. They can provide invaluable mentorship and help you refine your research question and methodology. Consider Publication Options: There are many academic journals and online platforms that publish high-quality student research. Seek opportunities that align with your field and target audience. Remember: Independent research and publication is a marathon, not a sprint.  Start planning early, be patient, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks.  The experience itself will be a valuable learning journey, and the potential to see your name in print is just the icing on the cake!