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Alison Lawrence at the NCUR

Alison Lawrence, Roscoe, Ill., majored in biology/pre-medicine and women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGSS), with a minor in Spanish. She will attend University of California Irvine School of Medicine this fall.

Lawrence '23 wins competition with 'Flipped Medicine' research

Alison Lawrence being awarded the Quick Pitch prize

Alison Lawrence '23 was awarded first place in the Quick Pitch competition at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Competing against 500 students from colleges across the country, Alison Lawrence '23 won a first-place prize at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) for her research on bias in the medical profession.

Her project, titled "Flipped Medicine: A Guide to Deconstructing the Normative Patient Model," won top honors in the NCUR's WiSys Quick Pitch Competition, in the social sciences and humanities category. 

Participants in the Quick Pitch Competition have the opportunity to present their research in three minutes or less. For Lawrence, her entry was distilled from a 15-minute talk, which she also presented at the conference.

"My research aims to teach health care providers how to identify instances where diversity is ignored in medical education," Lawrence explained. "'Flipped Medicine' is a tool to help them recognize the prevalence of the normative patient model — typically that of a white male — understand the harm it causes and imagine a more inclusive system."

"Alison's trajectory at Augustana illustrates precisely why it is important to pair STEM fields with the humanities and social sciences."

Dr. Jennifer Heacock-Renaud
Alison Lawrence presenting

Lawrence was invited to present her winning pitch before the plenary session of Dr. Jeff Thompson, a pediatrician and hospital CEO, at the conference.

She started her research in WGSS-130, Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies, taught by her WGSS advisor, Dr. Jennifer Heacock-Renaud. Dr. Heacock-Renaud told Lawrence about the NCUR and encouraged her to apply.

"Alison's trajectory at Augustana illustrates precisely why it is important to pair STEM fields with the humanities and social sciences," said Dr. Heacock-Renaud. "As a physician, it is key to possess deep knowledge of the biological sciences, but it is equally imperative to understand the structures of power that shape patients as complex human beings."

Dr. Ann Perreau, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, attended the conference with Lawrence and was in the audience for her presentation.

"Her work has great implications to help educate medical students on symptom presentation using a diverse lens," said Dr. Perreau. "After her presentation, she received several questions — including from an EMT, who highlighted her project's relevance."

Lawrence said it was exciting to see people engage with her work and take something away from it.

"I am so grateful for this experience," she said. "It's prepared me for a future of hopefully more important presentations as I take the next step of my education in medical school."

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