Valerie Steckle, Physiology
Student’s Name: Valerie Steckle
Country of Origin: Zurich, ON, Canada
Undergraduate Department: Physiology
Why Faculty of Medicine?
I chose the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine because I wanted to challenge myself with a rigorous undergraduate science program while gaining research experience. After high school, I had no idea what field of healthcare I wanted to pursue a career in; so joining the Faculty of Medicine was a fantastic way to ensure I had a wide variety of options for future graduate and professional programs.
Why this Department?
I specifically joined the Department of Physiology after taking PSL300/301 in second year. I found these courses fascinating because they tied together every part of the human body from the molecular level to the organismal level. I strongly believe that having the capability to conceptualize health and disease in this way uniquely prepares Physiology students to work in healthcare in a variety of capacities.
Current Research Experience
I have been involved in obstetrical research at Mount Sinai Hospital since the beginning of my second year. I first worked as a member of the Ontario Birth Study (OBS) research team, and completed a data entry of patient questionnaires. I then completed a summer project that examined the relationship between mental health and spontaneous preterm birth (SPTB). This work led me to a secondary project to examine the relationship between exercise patterns, systemic inflammation, and SPTB. I am looking forward to moving onto a third project this summer, which will involve mRNA study.
Future Education Plans and/or Career Goals
Throughout undergrad, I have become passionate about women’s health: a field that is severely underserviced in rural communities. This has inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. After completing medical school, I hope to return to rural southwestern Ontario to help address this void in my community. I have also realized that there is less health research conducted about rural populations, where people live completely different lifestyles from their urban counterparts. I hope that I can be a physician who leads this type of research in the future.