Undergrad’s debut research article examines environmental factors on pediatric asthma in North America
Senior public health sciences student Jenna Pollock recently published a research article in the Canadian Respiratory Journal dealing with pediatric health. Her research examines the environment’s effect on pediatric asthma, and the article was Pollock’s debut in research and the environmental health field.
Pollock’s research asserted that little is known about the relationship between outdoor environmental factors and asthma for certain allergens, as well as how the relationships vary across seasons and climate regions. Her research suggests that additional studies are needed to close gaps in the existing knowledge of pediatric asthma.
“Most of the studies in the U.S. are done in the Northeast Coast and do not take into account spatial-temporal differences that may exist across the entire country,” Pollock said. “Once research can take into account these differences, we can better prevent pediatric asthma-related emergency department visits.”
The research process involved sifting through over 500 research articles on environmental and pediatric health. Due to the quantity of information, Pollock and her mentors created a set of research criteria data had to meet in order for the study to remain consistent, such as participants being under 18 and from North America. Pollock found the length and magnitude of this process to be the most challenging aspect of the study, but was encouraged throughout this process by Ronald Gimbel, associate professor and chair of Clemson’s public health sciences department.
“Dr. Gimbel was incredibly helpful throughout the project,” Pollock said. “Because it was such an extensive process, I continuously had to adapt as more research was uncovered, but it was worth it when it was officially published. I was ecstatic.”
During the manuscript’s blinded peer review process, pediatric asthma and environmental science reviewers provided in-depth comments; these led to improvements to the quality of the work. Nearly five months after submission, her manuscript was finally published. Gimbel believes Pollock has unique strengths and is a standout student in the public health sciences program.
“She is definitely in the top 1 percent of students in our program,” Gimbel said. “The faculty is extremely proud of her.”
In addition to her recently published manuscript, Pollock also served as an undergraduate research intern at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. She was engaged in health disparity research regarding Native Americans, a subject of interest for Pollock as she is part Native American, and presented her work at a scientific conference in California.
Pollock has accepted an offer for a one-year research appointment in the Clinical Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where she will be working on a research project related to rare diseases. After this gap year, she plans on attending medical school where she hopes to perform more clinical research.