Master's Student in Reproductive Science and Medicine
Kelsey Andersen is a student in the master of science in reproductive science and medicine (MS-RSM) program in the Center for Reproductive Science (CRS). She is currently completing her thesis research in the lab of Emily S. Miller, MD, MPH. Kelsey recently received a Cornerstone Grant from the Histochemical Society to support her thesis research. She is a CRS Community Engagement Committee member and served on the planning committee for the Illinois Symposium on Reproductive Science.
How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
My research focuses on examining the expression of the tryptophan metabolism pathway in the human ovary and placenta to understand inflammation during aging and perinatal depression. With this research, I hope to begin a novel approach to identifying new targets for the development of therapeutics to aid in lengthening the reproductive lifespan of women and finding treatments for women experiencing depression perinatally and postnatally.
Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.
My research was inspired by the preliminary work of my mentors, Dr. Emily Miller and Dr. Francesca Duncan. This research allows me to bring together the benchwork of science and the clinical importance and administrative work that needs to be done to conduct research.
Whom do you admire in your field and otherwise, and why?
I have an incredible amount of respect for my mentor, Dr. Francesca Duncan. Not only is she dedicated to her own work and research, she also shows compassion and consideration for every single student who steps into her lab. Dr. Duncan has gone above and beyond for me and every mentee she has taken on. She exemplifies what it means to be a great mentor, researcher, and professor.
What do you find both rewarding and challenging about your research and/or work?
The most challenging part of my research is that the specific work I am doing has seldom been done. Because of this, it isn't easy to know if I am on the right path in terms of results. However, this is also a rewarding aspect of the research because any type of result is a result. Whether or not the product is what I expected, it is still the first of its kind and will be a starting point for other researchers in the field.
What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?
The biggest potential impact of this work is that it might show that the placenta is a target for the treatment of depression in pregnant women. Additionally, this work could show that the tryptophan metabolism pathway is expressed in the ovary, and inhibition of the pathway, could slow the reproductive aging process, allowing women to reproduce longer.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the possibilities of the future. Northwestern has already provided me with a vast network of alumni, faculty, and collaborators that I know I will look to in the future for help with other research projects, funding opportunities, and collaborative projects. All these things inspire me to continue reaching out to others and connecting with others in the field to expand the literature in reproductive science.
Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.
I was recently awarded a grant to help support funding for equipment, reagents, and imaging for my current research. This grant was such an honor and really gave me the push to work hard and do whatever I can to keep the research going.
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I am most proud of how far I have come in such a short amount of time. In my program, I have been given the skills to execute IRBs and grant proposals, and prepare for scientific publications.
Published: November 9, 2021
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