Undergraduate Biology at Illinois Tech in Chicago
Pooja Agarwal, a biochemistry major, is a talented, unusually engaged, and hardworking student, according to her former teacher Ben Stark, professor of biology. She has done undergraduate research in both biomedical engineering and psychology, is a clinical coordinator for MEDLIFE, is a member of the Honors Medical Society, and is a founding member of and vice president of the fledgling Society for Biological Sciences. She received a College of Science Undergraduate Summer Research Stipend to work with Stark on his research.
During her time at IIT, Agarwal has developed a passion for the fields of science and healthcare, and has long-term career goals of entering a field that bridges these two passions. Her summer research allowed her to delve into research at the crossroads of environmental medicine and microbiology. She examined how various contaminants such as sulfur are emitted into the environment, consequently producing numerous health risks for the world. Even short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can result in many adverse respiratory effects such as emphysema and bronchitis, and can also aggravate existing heart disease. Agarwal’s research directly addressed the issue of sulfur dioxide levels in the atmosphere by aiming to develop more efficient methods of decreasing the sulfur-containing compounds present in petroleum during the refining process.
Agarwal said, “With the field of healthcare and other related fields so rapidly evolving and globalizing, it is essential to have an interdisciplinary approach to learning and research. Participation in this lab allowed me to expand my learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.”