Meet the Seawolf: Mallory Givens

Mallory Givens is that woman you’ve heard of through the friends of friends that can try anything and succeed. She gets great grades, researches harp seal hearts and is graduating with a degree in history, although she has enough biology credits to continue onto medical school.

Oh yeah, and she still has time for a social life.

Given’s mentor in research, Dr. Jennifer Burns, had offered high praise for the promising graduate.

“Her strong liberal arts background shows in her writing ability, and her ability to synthesize and integrate information across disciplines,” Burns said. “As a student juggling a heavy and diverse class load, Mallory has had to be very organized and detail oriented, and that has really helped her in her lab work.”

The Northern Light: What kind of research do you do?

Mallory Givens: The biomedical research I’m doing right now is on harp seal hearts.

TNL: What does that entail?

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MG: The first thing I had to do was find a mentor or professor. Since I’m a history major, that was a little more difficult. But most of the professors want to work with a student. They want undergraduate students; you just have to contact them.

The next thing I did after I found a professor that would work with me, and I wanted to work with her, is write up a proposal for an undergraduate research grant. So I applied for the Alaska Heart Institute fellowship and I also applied for the undergraduate research grant.

I received the Alaska Heart Institute fellowship and they paid for six credits of research. That’s one thing, only the AHI does this, but they’ll pay for your research and then they also gave me $3,000 to conduct my research and then they’re giving me $1,500 stipend when I finish my research.

TNL: What stage of research are you in now?

MG: I’m done, I’m writing up my thesis and I’m putting together a poster for D.C.

TNL: When do you go to D.C.?

MG: This Saturday. The Posters on the Hill event I’m going to is through the Council on Undergraduate Research. I’m presenting my research to congress. There’s a lot of opportunities that people, if they just look into the honors college website in the office of undergraduate research, will find tons of scholarships and money that is available for people if they can find a mentor or write up a proposal.

TNL: How did you tap into this world of undergraduate research?

MG: I wanted to do research because I’m premed. I really liked it so I took it a step farther with applying for extra things. It’s a great experience even if you’re not doing lab research like I’m doing.

It’s a great way to get critical thinking skills and experience in areas that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you were just taking your normal classes. I’ve taken tons of biology and chemistry classes and you don’t get the experience that I’ve gotten in the lab. I’m by myself, working on things as a researcher, I have my mentor that I work with who guides me but I wouldn’t get this experience if I hadn’t applied for research grants.

TNL: Were there any people that influenced you to start your research?

MG: The honors college and the premed advisor.

TNL: What happens with your research after you bring it to congress?

MG: With the Posters on the Hill, I’m just presenting my research but my research will be left with my mentor, Dr. Jennifer Burns. Then she can use the research if she wants to use it in another study. It’s pretty much whatever she wants to do with it.