Hannah Bossie, a senior in exercise and sport science, has fallen in love with research as an undergraduate and plans to pursue her doctorate so that one day she can be an inspiring mentor to young scientists.
Johns Creek, Ga.
B.S. in exercise and sport science
University highlights, achievements and awards:
The summer after my freshman year, I had the opportunity to be a nanny for a little boy named Carson who is affected by mitochondrial disease. To say he stole my heart would be an understatement. His unconditional love and appreciation for the smallest things (like ceiling fans, waving his hand out the car window and the enjoyment of eating a Go-Gurt) forever changed my life and my perspective. Upon returning to school my sophomore year, I knew I wanted to become involved with the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and play an active role in advocacy. After becoming an ambassador for the organization in 2011, I began the first collegiate chapter of the UMDF at UGA. With a dedicated board of directors and an enthusiastic group of members, we participated in multiple club fairs, hosted percentage nights and advocacy events, and worked closely with local families affected by mitochondrial disease. With the support of the UGA golf program and local “mito” families, we were able to host a successful golf tournament called “Carson’s Classic” two years in a row, raising over $30,000 for the UMDF in support of education, family support and research toward finding a cure. The ability to start a student organization and advocate for a cause that is so close to my heart was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
When I was accepted into the exercise and sport science major at the end of my junior year, I received a kinesiology Listserv email requesting participants for a research study in the Exercise Muscle Physiology Lab. Without any other information, I volunteered immediately, excited to finally be a part of the department. During my testing session, I was exposed to the NIRS technology and analysis method that was developed in professor Kevin McCully’s lab as a noninvasive measure of mitochondrial function. I was instantly intrigued and after meeting with Dr. McCully following my participation, I began working in the lab as an undergraduate researcher. After working on an undergraduate project in the fall, I proposed my own project to Dr. McCully that involved measuring mitochondrial function in those affected by mitochondrial disease. With his support, I have been able to conduct my own research project, working in collaboration with a geneticist practicing in Atlanta. This project has really allowed me to channel both my philanthropic efforts and my love for science in a way that has been incredibly fulfilling to me. I had the opportunity to present my pilot data at the CURO Symposium and will be continuing the project throughout the summer and fall. Since high school, I had planned on becoming an occupational therapist. However, after my experiences over the past year in Dr. McCully’s lab, I have discovered an incredible passion for research that I never would have anticipated. I now feel drawn toward a career in research, which I never would have discovered without the opportunities that I have been given in Dr. McCully’s lab as an undergraduate researcher.
Occupational therapy technician at Athens Orthopedic Clinic
Family Ties to UGA:
My mom and older sister were both Dawgs; I was born to bleed Georgia red!
I chose to attend UGA because...
It was never really a thought as to where I wanted to go to college. I always wanted to be a Bulldog. I applied for early admission and was accepted; I didn’t fill out a single application after that. UGA is unique in that it offers a competitive academic curriculum coupled with an exciting and fun atmosphere in Athens.
My favorite things to do on campus are...
My favorite things to do on campus are research, research and research! I love coming into the Exercise Muscle Physiology Lab, pouring myself a cup of coffee, sitting down in the data analysis room across from the coffee maker (our version of meeting at the water cooler) and talking science. The lab is always bustling with experiments, discussions of journal articles, recent data analysis results and, of course, troubleshooting. One of my favorite aspects of lab is what a collaborative environment it is, with graduate students, undergraduate students and faculty all contributing and getting involved with each other’s research. It is impossible to spend time in the lab without asking at least one question and learning something new.
When I have free time, I like...
… working out and spending time outside. I like to walk the trails in Five Points and often end up at Bear Hollow. I love spending time with friends and really enjoy cooking.
The craziest thing I've done is...
… snowboard down Flute Bowl in Whistler, Canada, the day after breaking my wrist. One cut-up tube sock, a large zippered plastic bag and decent amount of duct tape seemed like sufficient protection for my cast. After an hour hike in knee-deep snow, we finally reached the top of the bowl with a view of nothing but white. Dropping in and putting down the first tracks on untouched powder through a maze of snow-covered trees was the most euphoric feeling I’ve ever experienced. Later that afternoon, I found out that the bowl had been so perfectly untouched because it was actually closed due to avalanche conditions … that’s when it became crazy.
My favorite place to study is...
My favorite place to study is the conference room in the kinesiology faculty hallway of Ramsey. It’s usually empty and quiet, and it has the most comfortable chairs! I also like to take my flashcards to Memorial Park when it is nice outside.
My favorite professor is...
I have been surrounded by the most incredible faculty within the kinesiology department, all of which I have genuinely enjoyed learning from. My favorite professor is undoubtedly Kevin McCully. Dr. McCully embodies everything I could ask for in a mentor. His passion for research is absolutely infectious and his genuine desire to help and encourage all of his students to reach their goals is unparalleled. Dr. McCully’s interest and belief in my potential has been an invaluable contribution to my intellectual growth at UGA. Dr. McCully’s guidance and mentorship have not only allowed me to realize what I believe to be my real calling in life, but they have also helped to build the intellectual confidence that I need to truly pursue it. He has created a lab environment that fosters scientific curiosity and collaboration among all his researchers, regardless of age or major. Becoming a part of his lab turned a large university into a family.
Since high school, I had always planned on going to occupational therapy school after completing my undergraduate degree. After the past year of my involvement in the lab, I have realized that my passion lies with research and I now intend to complete my master’s and Ph.D. in exercise physiology. If I can be a “Dr. McCully” to a single student in my career, I would deem myself a success as a professor.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
… my grandmother. I never had the opportunity to meet my mom’s mother. My mom is such an important role model in my life and I would love to be able to meet the woman who raised and influenced her.
If I knew I could not fail, I would...
… honestly be doing exactly what I am doing now, which is pursing my Ph.D. and a research career focused on demonstrating the ways that exercise can eliminate the need for many commonly prescribed medications. I would also like to create the perfect recipe for a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to...
… travel the world with my family. We all have a “travel bug” and I can’t think of anything more exciting than getting to explore the globe with my very favorite people.
After graduation, I plan to...
After graduation I hope to begin my master’s in exercise physiology under professor Kevin McCully. Next, I plan to obtain my Ph.D. in either exercise physiology or rehabilitation sciences, ultimately becoming a university professor. I strongly wish to pursue my research in an academic setting because I have experienced firsthand what an influential experience it can be for students to participate in research labs. I would love the opportunity to mentor and encourage young scientists, as I have been so lucky to have that experience at UGA.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...
When I look back on my time at UGA, one of my fondest memories is hosting Carson’s Classic Golf Tournament. The day of the tournament, especially the first year that it was held, was an overwhelming experience. To have Carson, my friends, family, volunteers and local families affected by mitochondrial disease all there in support of the tournament and our cause was absolutely incredible. To be able to take an idea of advocacy for a cause that is so close to my heart and finally see the cultivation of my efforts and the efforts of so many others was one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had.