University of South Florida

College of The Arts

University of South Florida

Undergraduate Research Assistant Kayla Li Receives Scholarship to Attend Oxford

Friday, April 20, 2018

portrait of Kayla Li

Kayla Li, research assistant for Professor Jennifer Bugos, is a recipient of the Medical Sciences Graduate School Studentship to attend the University of Oxford for one year in pursuit of a master's degree in clinical embryology.

Li's interdisciplinary research with Bugos at the USF School of Music has been an important part of her USF education and has helped her prepare for graduate school.

The Medical Sciences Graduate School Studentship will provide Li with funding for tuition, fees, and living expenses. At Oxford, she will learn advanced techniques in embryology, work with global leaders in the field, and engage in research culminating in a master's dissertation.

Li, who is graduating with a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences and a minor in public health, has been a research assistant for Bugos since beginning her studies at USF in 2016.

Upon starting her studies at USF, she participated in the USF STEM Academy, a week-long program before the Fall semester designed to build community, network, and connect students to research opportunities. The program and the guidance of Dr. Richard Pollenz, biology professor and director of STEM Academy, connected her with research opportunities at the School of Music.

Li's past experiences in music include playing piano, clarinet, guitar, and the Chinese stringed instrument, the pipa. She also played in band in middle school. Working with Bugos on interdisciplinary music research provided the ideal setting to continue to be immersed in music.

"I feel like I didn't have enough experience to do marching band in college, but I still wanted to be around music," said Li.

Li has worked with children and adults on Bugos' studies, "The Impact of Piano Training on Cognitive Performance and Psychosocial Well-Being in Older Adults," and "The Impact of a Technology-Based Music Training Program on Executive Functions in Early Learners."

Her duties with Bugos have included scheduling, recruitment, testing research participants, and data entry. She also created a standardized Lego protocol curriculum for Bugos' study with young children.

On April 19, she presented the research poster, "The Effects of Auditory Processing Interventions on Musical Nuance Perception," in collaboration with undergraduate researcher Hiwot Zewdie at the USF Undergraduate Research Conference on April 19. Li and Zewdie used data from Bugos's research study with older adults to create her poster.

Li says her research experience has allowed her to mature, gain experience working with others, and learn about research design.

Furthermore, engaging in undergraduate research allowed her to combine what she has learned in her science classes with the more applied and interpersonal nature of research.

"I also think it's really cool I get the wet lab in my classes and then I get to work with human subjects over here," said Li.

After Oxford, she plans to either go to medical school to become a neonatologist or to look for opportunities as a researcher in the field of embryology.