Wright State University honors student Josie Graft is working toward a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science and a minor in biological sciences, but she discovered her passion in the laboratory learning about human anatomy, physiology and basic laboratory procedures well before she ever set foot on campus.
A 2019 graduate of Lakota High School in West Chester, Graft attended Butler Tech Biomedical Science Center during her last two years in high school.
“I have always had a passion for science and wanted to pursue a career that would challenge and encourage me to learn new things every day,” she said. “While direct patient care is important and critical to the medical profession, I felt that my skills would be better suited to a laboratory environment where I could run tests, analyze results and work with medical professionals to provide patient diagnoses.”
Graft’s research focuses on what is understood about the biological function and measurable expression of the brain’s prefrontal cortex and the psychological theory of cognitive flow, a state that an individual experiences when they are completing a task they enjoy and have the adequate skill set to accomplish.
Working with a variety of research participants, Graft is investigating the ability of a statistical model to correlate heart rate, skin conductivity and temperature by a wearable sensor (similar to a Fitbit or Apple Watch) to the flow state experienced by the user while doing activities that they chose.
“My participants chose activities that they enjoy and could complete with varying difficulty, like playing the violin, drawing pictures, reading or playing video games,” Graft said. “This research was really exciting because it was pivotal for cognitive flow theory to provide a source of data that was quantitative instead of qualitative. Educational biology is unlike other research in that it focuses on connecting what we see and experience in the external environment to what is happening internally in our bodies.”
William Romine, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences and director of the Data Science for Education Laboratory at Wright State, has nothing but praise for Graft’s work in the lab.
“During her time doing research in our lab, Josie has tackled many open-ended scientific questions with considerable courage, curiosity and commitment. She leads by example and has served as a strong role model in our lab,” Romine said.
In addition to her research, Graft is doing clinical rotations at Soin Medical Center.
“I get to shadow experienced medical laboratory scientists and learn the basics of the testing instrumentation, general policies and procedures, and critical problem-solving skills,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to translate my classroom learning to a real setting and gain perspective on how fast this field advances with new technologies. I can practice skills I will use in my future career while having an experienced medical laboratory scientist observe me and provide helpful feedback and advice that I can carry with me no matter where I work.”
Amy Wissman, director of the Medical Laboratory Science Program, said she met Graft as a student in an online, upper-level biology course she was teaching and was excited when Graft applied to the program.
“As our clinical year has progressed, she has done an outstanding job academically and during her clinical rotations at Kettering Health, where she has had hands-on learning experience training with medical lab professionals,” Wissman said.
As a member of the College of Science and Mathematics Dean’s Circle, Graft collaborates with other students to organize events for students in the college and ensures students’ voices are heard.
Graft is expected to graduate in spring 2023, plans to take the American Society of Clinical Pathology board of certification exam to become a practicing medical laboratory scientist and will transition to a full-time position with Kettering Health.