Aubrey Gower would truly like to be known as a forever intern. Aubrey started her SMAHRT career as an Undergraduate Research Intern at the University of Washington. Four years later, she is now a full time SMAHRTie.
When she was in her fall quarter of sophomore year, Aubrey was seeking research experience. At this point in time, she had not had any prior experience and didn’t really know how to approach the research process. Initially, she was looking for bench lab research, such as neurobiology among other areas. Aubrey remembered reading SMAHRT’s description amongst all the other research lab positions. “I thought it was really interesting because at the time I was pursuing psychology and biology and I always liked the duality of those two…”, said Aubrey. SMAHRT seemed to cover both of her interests in biology and behavior, straying away from bench research.
After applying, Aubrey was interviewed and enjoyed everything about the team. SMAHRT’s interview process allows for each team member to meet the potential new member. She liked that everyone had their own individual projects and interests. As an undergraduate, Aubrey was interested in drug research. At the time of her interview, SMAHRT was conducting a lot of studies on alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. When Aubrey left the office that day she felt as though she had met her people. The start of Aubrey’s SMAHRT career began with a combination of circumstances, but she fell into it a little backwards. She began by looking for bench research, but she feels it worked out better for her to be involved in adolescent health and technology research.
Although Aubrey feels like a forever intern, she is now an Associate Research Specialist. Throughout the course of her 4 years with SMAHRT she evolved into more leadership and mentorship roles. This evolved naturally while she was taking on these bigger tasks. Aubrey is now in a full time position, leading projects, attending meetings, and continuing to mentor students on and outside of the team. “I do genuinely consider myself a forever intern because I feel like I am always learning, kind of like when I was an intern”, said Aubrey. She feels like she is always absorbing new information or skills. Aubrey believes that you can never know too much, there will always be something new to learn.
Aubrey continues to learn at and outside of work. She is in the midst of applying to medical school. Her overall goal is to become an Adolescent Health Specialist. Aubrey wants to work with underserved youth, particularly urban youth. She also wants to pursue a Masters of Public Health (MPH) so she will be able to work in a clinic as well as conduct research. Her work with SMAHRT has exposed different health behaviors and outcomes that are relevant to adolescents, which has spurred some of her career and research interests.
One of her favorite projects was one that she worked on while still in undergrad. The study was called Investigating Washington State Marijuana Business Presence on Social Media. It looked at local business’ marijuana advertising in Seattle. The study investigated if the advertisements appealed to youth and whether marijuana companies were using tactics similar to those of Tobacco companies. This is Aubrey’s favorite project because she got to witness the entire research process, from grant writing to developing the codebook. This was also a very collaborative project and the team members that worked on this study still stay in touch today. Recently, Aubrey had the opportunity to present a part of this study at the Pediatric Academic Society (PAS) Conference this year in Toronto.
Aubrey’s time at SMAHRT has been riddled with learning experiences. The most important lesson that she has learned is the fact that there is always more to learn. Research is fun because you need to find something that is innovative, while looking at the topic from different perspectives. “I always go into it assuming I come away with something new and also at the same time I get to understand either populations or health behaviors that interest me”, said Aubrey. Her advice to beginning researchers is that you should never be satisfied with just one answer. You should seek out as many perspectives that you can, and collaborate as much as you can.