Following a diagnosis of a chronic illness in middle school, Ariana Belton DRC'21 dreamed of one day helping others. Now, as a chemical biomedical engineering major and a researcher at Robert Wood Johnson, Belton conducts diabetes research, studying different mechanisms that can increase beta-cell adaptability in vivo through sensory neural populations.
In addition to her role as a researcher at Robert Wood Johnson, Belton is active in student programs across campus. She is a member of the Reilly Douglass Engineering Living-Learning Community and Project SUPER. Through these programs, Belton has had many opportunities to explore her love of scientific research.
“It is both fulfilling and challenging being a part of Project SUPER. It is completely different working hands-on in a lab than in lecture. Every day I go into lab, I leave feeling accomplished. I know the work my lab does is innovative and meaningful,” said Belton.
Even with all her success, Belton’s educational journey has not been without challenges. As someone who has a chronic illness and varying day-to-day symptoms, she sometimes struggled to communicate her health needs with her professors. She credits talking with Douglass staff members, as well as loved ones, with inspiring her to have the courage to advocate for herself to claim her education.
Having the space to have these types of conversations, both in and out of the classroom, is integral to Belton’s Douglass experience.
“The most fulfilling part of being a Douglass student was taking the Douglass Course, Knowledge and Power,” Belton said. “Being surrounded by students from various backgrounds and having important, deep, progressive conversations about our society really had a lasting impact on me.”
After graduation, Belton intends to continue her education by attending graduate school for biomedical engineering. She hopes to one day present and publish her research.
Belton urges other Douglass students to continue to pursue their dreams, no matter the challenges they may face.
“There will always be obstacles in your way, but how you deal with and overcome them will make you a stronger individual.”