Kim Gocchi Carrasco

As a senior psychology major and sociology minor in the 2013-14 academic year, Patience Mudundulu had a strong interest in research UNL sociology professor Dr. Kimberly Tyler was conducting about street youths in Zambia.

Dr. Tyler’s ongoing study involves HIV transmission among Zambian youths. Originally from Zambia herself, Patience hoped to learn more about the issues impacting her home country as well as find ways to stop the spread of HIV among Zambian youths. Because of her personal investment in the research, Patience became involved in Tyler’s research and plans to stay involved in the future.

After applying to and being accepted as a USTARS (Undergraduate Sociology Teaching and Research Student) in February 2015, Patience began her work as a USTARS with Tyler acting as her advisor.

During summer 2014, Tyler and her colleagues (who included Dr. Charles Wood of the UNL Virology Center and Dr. Ray Handema, a researcher from Lusaka) conducted a pilot study in Lusaka, Zambia’s largest city and capital. In this study, 250 street youth in Lusaka were interviewed, asking the youths about their use of illicit substances, reasons for using, their peers’ usage, as well as accessibility of substances in their community. The youths were also tested for HIV.

At present the project is ongoing and Tyler and her colleagues are working on research papers for publication. Additionally, Dr. Tyler and her colleagues are using this pilot study as the basis for their current grant application, which will be submitted in May to study this same population with an added longitudinal component. If this project is funded, Patience will continue work with Tyler and her team as a project manager.

Since graduating, Patience plans to further use her sociology degree in both academic and commercial settings. In addition to aiding Dr. Tyler in her research, Patience is also an admissions specialist for Celerion, Inc., in Lincoln, Nebraska, a company which specializes in translating medical research into treatments.

Story by Lane Chasek

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