Winter Term - Summer 2020

September 3, 2020
Yvonne Gay
A portrait of a girl next to a poster of a figure with COVID-19 symptoms
Kimberly Hickey '21 and material used in her COVID-19 research. Photo credit: Courtesy of Kimberly Hickey’21

More than 200 students performed individual and group projects during this year’s Winter Term. Although Winter Term is typically held in January, it was shifted to August this year under the same premise as in years past: a time for students to explore opportunities outside of their regular course of study. In this first series of Winter Term coverage, we look at a student’s attempt to take fear out of COVID-19

Kimberly Hickey ’21 intended to pursue biomedical research in Stockholm, Sweden, this summer. However, after the onset of the coronavirus, her plans were canceled. She decided to shift her attention to learn more about the very thing that has the world’s attention.

“My individual research project was a great way for me to continue furthering my education and career interests despite the challenges presented to academic programs by the pandemic,” says Hickey. 

“Overall, the project has been very rewarding for me. Although it was challenging, I did this project to learn as much as I could to expand my understanding of the coronavirus pandemic, not to make any breakthroughs. As someone who is at risk for developing fatal complications from COVID-19, living through the coronavirus pandemic is a very scary reality. I felt that if I tried to learn as much as I could about the coronavirus, it would ease some of the anxiety and uncertainty.”

With a multitude of ways to cover COVID-19—from public health to politics—Hickey says her monthlong project could have easily turned into a graduate school thesis. Ultimately, the pre-med student decided to delve into medicinal aspects of treating the virus. 

After looking into the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Chloroquine (CQ), Hickey learned that both HCQ and CQ have more than 70 serious side effects, which is one of the reasons why HCQ’s FDA emergency use authorization was revoked.

“I hope that learning more about how this virus functions and its treatment protocol will not only aid me in continuing to understand the scientific research process, but also make me a more well-informed student of medicine, and help prepare me for medical school and a lifelong career as a physician.” 

Hickey, a resident of Massachusetts, returned to Oberlin in August, to continue her pre-med studies in psychology and as a horn performance major.


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