Student Profile: Hanna Kosnik

ECU undergraduate researcher Hanna Kosnik is researching the underlying causes of bladder dysfunction to help find a possible cure for the disease.

Major: Biochemistry and Chemistry

Mentor: Dr. Johanna Hannan

Department: Department of Physiology

Project Title: “High Fat Diet Induced Sex Differences in Bladder Mitochondrial Complexes”

Bladder dysfunction and obesity-induced bladder dysfunction are common diseases that are merely dealt with and seen as a part of life. The cause of these diseases is not fully understood. Hanna’s is studying the mitochondria within the bladder of mice to determine if the tissues of the bladder were experiencing mitochondrial dysfunction that could lead to bladder dysfunction. 

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I became involved in research by reaching out to professors every chance I got. Also, I was able to hear from friends when there was availability in a lab.

Why did you choose your research topic?

Bladder dysfunction has a major impact on quality of life. People should be able to live life to the best of their abilities without having to worry about problems such as basic bladder dysfunction. Since there is little information behind the mechanisms that cause bladder dysfunction to occur, research is necessary to better understand the disease. 

What’s been your favorite part of conducting undergraduate research?

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know experts of a variety of fields. No matter what problem you are trying to address in your project, there are experts who can direct in what type of analyses need to be done or what type of results to expect from experiments. Getting to know these people and seeing the depth of their knowledge on their subject matter makes me want to learn as much as possible.

What challenges have you faced while conducting undergraduate research?

While parts of this project have had previous research to support our methods, there is little information on the results we are obtaining. Finding manuscripts about our topic has been difficult in the sense that no one has done these experiments. 

Why is your research important for the general public?

Bladder dysfunction is very prevalent in our society. Those who are obese have a higher risk of obesity-induced bladder dysfunction. Since our society loves food high in fat, like fast food, the prevalence of bladder dysfunction is continuing to increase. It is sadly seen as a part of life and only the symptoms are dealt with instead of the actual cause. 

What’s your ultimate goal or accomplishment that you hope your research will help you achieve?

It would be amazing to get the research published and help future researchers determine what is the cause of bladder dysfunction. Once the cause is known, a drug that helps bladder dysfunction would not be far behind!

Do you have any advice for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research?

Find a problem that interests you and dig deep! There are so many unexplored topics that people may not think about.