Not quite a year ago, Ohio was in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and student researchers at NEOMED had come up with a way to hold a symposium of their research online. The online 2020 Student Research Symposium was a success, with attendees able to visit breakout rooms to talk with  individual student researchers about their projects. And with COVID-19 still with us, the format will be used again this fall, for a Student Research Symposium to be held Friday, Nov. 19, from 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.  

Student participation is high, with 134 abstracts submitted, noted Vice President for Research Steven Schmidt, Ph.D.

Dr. Schmidt said, “It will be a great opportunity to see the incredible – and incredibly interesting – research being done at NEOMED. And it will be a wonderful opportunity to talk one-on-one with students about the exciting work they are doing. The chat rooms worked really well last year, and the student organizers have been planning a terrific event.”

One thing has changed for student researchers in the last year: While they used to be able to apply for a $3,000 stipend for a summer research fellowship, the “summer” aspect has been taken out of the name – and the policy. Stipends through the Student Fellowship Research Program  are now awarded for study done anytime during the year.

The life cycle of a research project

Because of the long-term nature of many research projects, trying to capture their progress can be like viewing old stop-motion photos by Eadweard Muybridge.

Take, for example, a project by third-year Rural Medical Education (RMED) Pathway student Sanjay Jinka titled “The Sociobehavioral Impact of COVID-19 in Rural Ohio.”  Jinka conducted it as part of a team consisting of students Jay Natarajan, Sanaa Mansoor, Matthew Kubina, Troy Kotsch and Charles Leahy under the direction of Mike Appleman, M.A. Ed., and Rebecca Fischbein, Ph.D. The study was actually initiated a year prior by RMED alumni Jennifer Glover, M.D. (‘21) and Julie Nam, M.D., (‘21), but progress was hampered by the pandemic.

Prior to the 2020 Student Research Symposium, Jinka and the team conducted a survey of patients in rural Ohio physicians’ offices. In all, 39 people responded. At the time of the fall 2020 symposium, the team hadn’t finished reviewing and analyzing the data. But later they found from this sample  that “In a rural community, potential differences exist in COVID-19 perceptions and related behaviors between groups stratified by gender, age, presence of health risk factors, and history of COVID-19 infection.”

Jinka, Kubina and Mansoor presented the findings in a poster called “Behaviors, Beliefs, and Perceptions of COVID-19 in Rural Ohio” at the 2021 Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC) Annual Meeting held in Pittsburgh Oct. 8-10. FMEC is a regional family medicine organization comprising the northeast region of the United States.

For students in the RMED Pathway, community capstone projects are highly encouraged as part of its co-curricular opportunities. In the past, students have completed surveys of rural physicians as well as several different aspects of physician workforce shortages in rural Ohio.

Reflecting on the process

Jinka said in an email, “This research went through IRB [Institutional Review Board, a committee within an institution such as NEOMED that monitors human subjects research] to get to this stage. We are still performing advanced multivariate analysis and hope to have a paper submitted for publication very soon. This being said, the poster presented at FMEC summarizes the interesting relationships we found so far, and I hope to include the latest version of this data at the NEOMED Symposium this year!

The 2021 Student Research Symposium will be held Friday, Nov. 19, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. It is co-presented by NEOMED’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Committee for Student Clinical Research.

Register here by Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m.

Important: Be sure to download and install the most recent version of Zoom prior to attending the event. Questions about registration? Contact Harmony Stanger at

Photo l. to r.: Sanjay Jinka and Matthew Kubina

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