Scientists of the Week

April West

The scientists of the week are senior psychology major Beth Rubin and senior biochemist Carrie Prochniak. For their collective honors project, which is being guided by both Associate Professor of Psychology Beth Haines and Associate Professor of Biology Beth DeStasio, they are interviewing families with at least one child with muscular dystrophy. The children fall between the ages of four and eighteen.
Rubin and Prochniak are interviewing the families about the health care system and what has best helped both the child and the family so that the health care system can then be altered to be more effective. They are also looking at what helps the families to cope and at ways the family members communicate with one another.
“It is important to hear directly from the families about what is and isn’t working for them. People are working very hard to find cures for these diseases, but in the meantime many people have to still deal with them,” stated Rubin.
The interview consists of straightforward questions and some more open-ended questions. The Muscular Dystrophy Association has also invited Rubin and Prochniak to give a presentation about their results at the annual MDA convention.
“Most people don’t conceive of what we are doing as science, which is a big misconception,” said Rubin. “Just because we are working with people and we can’t manipulate them doesn’t mean that it isn’t science. It is just as important as medical science and I think that it is very under-studied.”
Prochniak initially became interested in this area when she attended a two-week genetics course in middle school. Rubin became interested in this subject through Prochniak, who volunteered at the Appleton Medical Center and a hospital in Green Bay.
Rubin has interned at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and has also volunteered at the St. Louis Children’s hospital.
After graduation, Rubin plans on taking a year off and then getting her master’s degree in occupational therapy. Prochniak plans to go to school for genetic counseling with a specific interest in working with kids.