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Our Nurse of the Week is Paige Niepoetter, a senior nursing student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) who aspires to become a life-changing cancer researcher. Her drive and academic experiences during her undergraduate years have positioned her to achieve her dream of becoming a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer.

During nursing school, Niepoetter took advantage of the opportunity to work alongside faculty mentor Chaya Gopalan to conduct research through the university’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) program. Her scholarly work, which studied intermittent fasting and eating patterns in obese and non-obese rats, has received national recognition.

Niepoetter was one of 50 student researchers selected from a pool of more than 5,000 abstracts to present at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology DREAM Program’s Experimental Biology 2019 Meeting welcome reception.

She tells, “Winning the FASEB DREAM travel award was a blessing. Research is a passion of mine, but without proper funding, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to attend the entire conference. This award made it possible for me to attend various sessions of interest, connect with fellow researchers and gather ideas for new research directions.”

Gopalan also spoke to Niepoetter’s achievements: “Paige is a wonderfully focused student who works hard and is incredibly responsible. She has been in my lab for three years, is on two major research projects, and has been able to secure four abstracts and one manuscript for publication. This is only the beginning, as we will be writing several papers by the end of the summer. Paige will surely do amazing things in her future.”

Niepoetter attributes her success to Gopalan’s mentorship, which helped her develop her passion for research and clarify her decision to apply to medical school. The URCA program allowed her to go beyond what she learned in the classroom and develop her leadership skills and gain a sense of confidence she wouldn’t have without Gopalan’s mentorship.

To learn more about SIUE senior nursing student Paige Niepoetter and her aspirations to become a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer, visit here.

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