Advancing Kidney Disease Research

For Abigail Gunderson, participating in student research means bringing to life topics she learns about in the classroom and integrating them into her community. “Research helps me understand what I am actually getting a degree for,” she says. “It’s not just a piece of paper and job—my studies can actually impact the lives of people in a beneficial way.”

As part of her RES-MATCH project for spring 2020, Abigail worked with Duchossois Leadership Professor Geoffrey Williamson, professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean for analytics at Armour College of Engineering, on the project titled “Assessment of Renal Autoregulation” to assess and aggregate data on a short-segment autoregulatory index in laboratory rats. This method measures the blood pressure and renal blood flow rates of rats representing a variety of diseases, which will also help to determine the future of kidney research.

Abigail’s interest in the field began during her childhood when her older sister experienced health issues that led to her being put on kidney dialysis and receiving a kidney transplant. From that point on, Abigail began researching the field of chemical engineering. An opportunity arose when she was assigned to write a research paper for school. 

“Eventually I settled on a topic relating to artificial organs. As a part of my research I wrote about the use of the kidney dialysis machine; I discovered that a chemical engineer invented the life-saving machine. I thought the invention was so integral to our society and had saved so many people that I wanted to make a similar impact on the way people live,” shares Abigail.

After completing her degree in chemical engineering, Abigail aspires to give back to her community by building it up and making it stronger.

“Whether that means creating something as useful as the kidney dialysis machine or helping to preserve the environment, I want to make sure that the people who cared for me get the care they deserve,” she adds.

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