Adaya Troyer, a senior in nursing at UT, was only two when she was diagnosed with asthma. Now, as an undergraduate researcher, she’s trying to help young children with asthma understand and manage their condition.
UT’s eighth-annual Research Week kicks off today and runs through Friday, April 21. UT faculty and student research that impacts everyday life will be highlighted through a variety of events, including a Rube Goldberg Challenge, the annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EUReCA), a research photo contest, lectures, seminars and cultural events. A full list of which can be seen at ugresearch.utk.edu/research-week.
Troyer is just one of more than 1,400 UT undergraduates actively involved in research, an activity that embeds students in the learning process and enhances their preparation for graduate school or a career. Between 2015 and 2016 UT saw a 103 percent increase in the number of undergraduates involved in research and an 87 percent increase in the number of faculty serving as research mentors.
Troyer, of Knoxville, said she didn’t begin to understand her own asthma until—as an elementary school student—she was given an educational video game that taught her what triggered an attack and how to react to flare-ups.
In conducting her research, Troyer discovered that educational materials about asthma for very young children—those who haven’t yet learned to read or write—are virtually nonexistent. The need is great because kids younger than five are at the most risk of hospitalization.
Troyer’s aim is to fill this void.
“I hope to create an iPad app,” she said. “I believe that educating children early will help them understand and manage their illnesses by the time they are in school, which will decrease hospitalizations as well as social stigma placed on children by peers in their schools.”
This year alone, Troyer has presented her research at various campus events, the National Council on Undergraduate Research conference in Memphis, Legislative Day in Nashville, and the Southern Nursing Research Society conference in Dallas. In July she will present at an international nursing research conference in Ireland.
After graduation, Troyer hopes to continue working on this project. She has been accepted to the Tennessee Fellowship for Graduate Excellence program and will be pursuing a nurse practitioner license and PhD beginning this summer. Once she creates asthma learning tools for kids, she plans to broaden the scope of her work.
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)