Alaina Shierk

Meet Alaina Shierk

Biology, 2017

Current Position: Pursuing MS in Food and Nutrition at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Story Last Updated: October 2017
Current Position Updated: March 2019

While I came into college wanting a bachelor’s degree in biology, I didn’t necessarily want to take the obvious career paths. Instead of medical school or physical therapy programs, I wanted to use my degree to pursue nutrition. This is not a common career path for biology students, but when I came to GMercyU, I was given a list of things someone could do with a degree in biology, and nutrition was actually on the list! I felt so welcome despite having different goals than my classmates.

My favorite things about the program have been the courses; I’ve taken a Virology class and a genetics class, and have gotten a lot out of both of them. Virology enhanced my understanding of how vaccines work and how incredibly important they are. I had questions about vaccines that this course ironed out very well. Genetics overall is fascinating to me, and how important the organization and precision of our DNA assembly is to our bodies. I also find genetic conditions interesting to learn about, and how they come about through an error in our genes.

Maybe that’s why I intend to use my degree to help people recover from illnesses. After all, getting back on track with a good diet and replenishing lost nutrients is key to healing. I’d like to work with patients recovering from cancer or eating disorders, and I’ve been looking into graduate programs with courses focused on those subjects.

But for the next year I’m focused on my thesis. I’m looking into how resveratrol in cancer cells. I actually came to that because I wanted to do something with nutrition and cancer. Resveratrol is an antioxidant in red wine and chocolate that is related with preventing certain diseases, including cancer, so I’m looking more into proposed mechanisms of how that works through library research.