Four-year research projects by OUWB Class of 2023 completed, published online
An image of posters from a past Embark Capstone Colloquium.

Graduates from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine are required to complete four-year research projects, but not many will face the unique challenge presented to members of the Class of 2023.

The projects are through the school’s Embark program — a four-year longitudinal curriculum that consists of structured coursework in research design and implementation, compliance training, research communication, and scholarly presentation, with protected time to develop mentored projects in a wide-range of community and health-related settings.

The unique challenge faced by the Class of 2023 was that many students had to rethink their projects as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Click here to access the Class of 2023 Embark Capstone Colloquium!

Still, members of the class were able to overcome obstacles and find success, says Kara Sawarynski, Ph.D., assistant dean for Accreditation and Continuous Quality Improvement, and co-director, Embark. Their work can now be found online via the OUWB 2023 Embark Colloquium.

“Many initial projects required significant re-design in order to progress throughout the pandemic, which forced students to lean into their problem-solving talents,” she says. “Remarkably, OUWB students have shared their research outcomes with the wider scientific community through publications and successful presentations of their work at regional and national conferences with multiple award-winning presentations.”

So far, Embark work done by the OUWB Class of 2023 has accounted for 74 presentations and awards, as well as 10 published manuscripts.

In just one example of how Embark projects are shared, Nayiri Khatchadourian presented her work — “Physicians' Knowledge and Attitudes of Disordered Eating Behaviors Among Patients with Diabetes” — at the 2022 ADA American Diabetes Association conference in New Orleans. She also talked about the research on a popular podcast produced by The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative called Peace Meal, which is about eating disorders. She also uses social media to spread word of the study’s findings.

M4 Kevin Eid’s project was presented last week by his mentor at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Annual Conference. Eid says they plan to submit for publication the work entitled “Does Practicing Iyengar Yoga Improve Poster and Reduce Musculoskeletal Pain in Ophthalmologists? A Pilot Study?

An image of a presenter at the 2023 OU Graduate Research Conference
Jordan Ensz, M4, presented her project, "Disentangling the link between Burnout, Resilience, and Emotional Regulation Among Medical Students: The role of gap years," at the OU Graduate Research Conference in March.

Similarly, many students took advantage of the opportunity to present their work at the Oakland University Graduate Research Conference held on March 10.

Some projects already have had practical application, such as the one featuring a special pillowcase designed by Benjamin Goldstein that is designed to help people learn CPR.

Still others have won awards. Richard Ramirez recently presented his Embark project at the Michigan Infectious Diseases Society Annual Scientific Meeting and was awarded best oral presentation. His study suggests there’s a better way to help doctors decide when to give patients strong antibiotics.

Camilla Cascardo won the Kennith J. Matzick Embark Program Competitive Scholarship Manuscript of the Year. Her project was “Surveillance of Dual-Mobility Hip Systems: Damage Mode and Clinical Data Analysis.” (Other winners can be found at the Embark Colloquium webpage.)

"When I opened the email and saw that I had received the Manuscript of the Year award my jaw dropped," says Cascardo. "A million thoughts raced through my mind as I felt an immense sense of accomplishment."

Cascardo says she learned a lot from her Embark experience, with one primary lesson.

"In the end, the biggest takeaway for me throughout the entire Embark experience was learning the importance of perseverance," she says.

Overall, Sawarynski calls the OUWB Class of 2023's Embark projects, "an impressive set of research endeavors that address a wide-range of health issues throughout clinical practice, education and the community."

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“Graduates have pursued projects aligned with their passions, and have shown tremendous resilience as they navigated their research projects through the COVID restrictions early in their research design process.”

Dwayne Baxa, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Foundational Medical Studies, and co-director, Embark, says the hope is that Embark helps students develop a stronger appreciation of the research process, along with “their ability to successfully communicate their work, manage complicated project schedules, work within interdisciplinary teams, and operationalize an idea into a successful research project.”

Baxa and Sawarynski both expressed continued appreciation for the faculty mentors who have guided students throughout their Embark program projects.

“The success of the students and program would not be possible without their shared expertise,” says Baxa.

Presenting the work online allows for the work to reach an even larger audience, says Sawarynski.

“Presenting the students’ work within this digital format allows sharing with family members near and far, as well as mentors across OUWB, OU, and Corewell,” she says.

“We hope that shared interests, collaborative ideas, and potential future Embark projects will develop through accessing the colloquium site,” she adds. “We hope that audience members, including our first- through third-year medical students, find viewing the Class of 2023’s work as inspiring as we do.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.