Chaminade junior Chloe Talana was one of eight students out of 103 to be named best poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students on November 17 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Talana studied blood samples from HIV infected individuals to document how their immune cells function as part of a summer research program at Johns Hopkins University. She first presented her research at the Leadership Alliance symposium in Connecticut and was invited to present her research again at the recent conference in Indianapolis. She attended the national conference with six other Chaminade students, three of whom also presented their research.
“I could never be more grateful to be part of that conference,” says Talana. “I wasn’t even sure if I was actually going, but then I was fortunate enough to receive a full travel award from the Office of Health Professions Advising and Undergraduate Research. I was surrounded by bright people with the same passions, the same drive that want to do something good in STEM. I felt at home, especially since this is really what I want to do.”
Talana attributes her award to her ability to seize opportunities and the support she’s received from Chaminade professor Dr. Michael Weichhaus. Talana joined Dr. Weichhaus’s lab as a student researcher after she approached him after class one day and asked if he knew of any research opportunities.
“Opportunities don’t just fall into your lap nowadays, you have to take the initiative,” says Talana. “I took the initiative to approach Dr. Weichhaus, and now he’s my mentor and my advisor. He really takes the time to help me understand things, and he really listens. His mentorship has helped me evaluate what I want to do, what I can do and what I should do more.”
Dr. Weichhaus has encouraged Talana to pursue research opportunities outside of his lab, including the Johns Hopkins program. His mentorship has made such an impact on Talana’s experience as a student that earlier this year she nominated him for the President Mackey Prize, which he was awarded at the Na Liko Na’auao undergraduate conference at Chaminade University in March.
“Since I have started working with him, Dr. Weichhaus has validated what I want to do with my future,” says Talana. “A lot of people say doctor’s save lives, and they absolutely do. But if we really think about it, it all comes down to research. Without research, we wouldn’t have advances in medicine. I want to go to medical school to get a combined M.D. and Ph.D. and become a medical scientist.”