Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Katherine Elizabeth Slack

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2019

Research Project: WebMAP Young Adult Follow-up Study for Individuals with Chronic Pain

Project Description: This research project is a follow-up study from the original WebMAP study that occurred about 7 years ago. The original study evaluated the efficacy of a remotely-administered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program called WebMAP for children experiencing chronic pain. The current study is looking at how chronic pain and the WebMAP program have impacted the quality of life of the original participants as well as their transition to young adulthood. To evaluate this, young adults filled out a survey with information about their living situation, education, general health, and current chronic pain. There is also a COVID-19 component that studies the effects of the pandemic on these young adults.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

Throughout this research project, I have learned so much about how to conduct a study and how to contribute in a professional setting. Before starting this project, I was not aware of all of the moving parts and details that went into conducting a successful research study. However, as I worked with Drs. Tonya Palermo and Caitlin Murray, I learned about the entire process of receiving grants and approval, following research guidelines, running the study and collaborating with others, writing and submitting a manuscript, and more. Additionally, some of my roles included contacting and interviewing participants as well as writing parts of the manuscript, so my communication and scientific writing skills greatly improved. Finally, working on this study has provided me with the valuable experience of working with a professional team and collaborating with other research assistants, post-docs, and mentors to reach a common goal.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

My first piece of advice for future Mary Gates Research/Leadership applicants is to follow your passions. Often, people tend to focus on doing things that looks best for a resume or for a future position. As a pre-med student, when I first started at UW I thought that I would be a biology or chemistry major by default. However, when I started my research position at Seattle Children’s Hospital, I realized that I was much more interested in psychology. I ended up switching from the biology to the psychology major, and as a result, I have found experiences that I am passionate about rather than those that check a box. My other piece of advice is to completely immerse yourself in the learning experience of your research. I started off my position with no previous research experience. Rather than letting my inexperience dictate the roles I took on, I communicated with people in the lab, learned everything I could by volunteering to do many entry-level tasks, and asked for help when I needed it. Now, I am able to contribute to studies in a much more meaningful way because of what I have learned through having this mindset. This greatly enhanced my experience as a Mary Gates Research Scholar and as a researcher in general.

The Mary Gates Research Scholarship gave me the financial freedom to pursue my interests and put my time into what I am truly passionate about!