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Student Highlights: Sam Indresano (COL'23)

Sam Indresano is a junior in the College, majoring in Neurobiology and on the pre-med track.

Experience in Research

Sam initially joined the Georgetown University Community Health Division (CHD) in response to the recruiting efforts of a peer from high school, who laid extensive groundwork for establishing a student base in the CHD. At the start of his time at the CHD, the group was beginning to identify a need to address the inequities experienced by the Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) community in Washington, D.C. Accordingly, his team developed a project centered around advocates’ first-hand accounts regarding the disproportionate effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on their community. Through this firsthand experience, Sam hopes to hone his techniques and skills in working with vulnerable populations with the goal of becoming a more competent future medical professional. He has since been able to participate in the CHD’s growing list of opportunities, including grant writing and the submission of papers and posters for publication. Additionally, he has learned from the IDD community through listening sessions conducted for an ongoing research project, monthly Project Action meetings, and bi-monthly nutritional education sessions through the National Children’s Center (NCC). The engaging work performed at the CHD has expanded to include interactions with first responders, a population vulnerable to mental health issues due to their occupation, at the Police and Fire Clinic (PFC).  At the PFC, his team studied the use of the PHQ-9 psychological screening evaluation and offered suggestions for future use to address the mental health of first responders. Furthermore, to learn more about interacting with the IDD population clinically, he shadows Dr. Kim Bullock at the Providence Hospital Urgent Care unit, where she employs person-first language and respect of agency in her treatment of the IDD population. This led to the opportunity to act as a co-teaching assistant to Dr. Bullock’s Community Based Learning (CBL) course, where she organized panels with individuals with lived experiences. 


Sam jumped at the opportunity for research as an undergraduate, especially during the height of the pandemic. At first, he was skeptical as to how research that falls under the department of Family Medicine would fit into his Neurobiology major. Most of this research, at that point in time, consisted of facilitated interviews, in which he directly spoke to advocates. Nevertheless, it became abundantly clear within his first few weeks in the CHD that the research being conducted was both meaningful and necessary to the individuals they were looking to advocate for, which in turn motivated him. Through the direct interactions and strengthening of relationships with individuals within the IDD community,  his research gained a tangible significance that, to him, could not be achieved in a wet lab. After interacting with the advocates and observing their strong reactions, he immediately understood that this work was of deep importance to this community and was not adequately being addressed elsewhere. He began to shift his thinking from “how can this work add to my Neuro major?” to “how can I use the skills I have learned in class to add to this cause?” Throughout the ensuing year that he has been a part of the CHD, Sam has had the privilege of watching many talented students join the cause and passionately work to advocate for vulnerable populations, such as the IDD community.