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Tracey Pu

Extra curricular activities: Arts for Life Volunteer, Research at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) (4yrs), research with Dr. Keith Bonin and Dr. Martin Guthold with WFU Physics Department (1yr), member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority Eta Upsilon chapter, Arts for Life Art Teacher Volunteer – 9th Fl Hem/Onc Unit (2015-2016), Co-Photo Editor for Old Gold and Black (2014-2015)

Q: What made you decide to combine biology and art as majors?
A: I have always known I wanted to double major. I wasn’t ready to choose between my two passions, and Wake Forest enabled me to pursue both things I love. That’s what is great about the liberal arts education model – skills you gain from one area of study can easily be applied to another area. Although my biology and studio art majors may not seem like they interact, I believe they perfectly complement each other.

Q: What about your art connects with your interest in medicine?
A: In my solo art show, Figurative Language (2016), I explored the presentation of the human figure as a metaphor for the challenges physicians face in clinical settings. Multiple levels of meaning and ambiguity may be the “life blood” of art, but physicians often encounter patients exhibiting conflicting signs and symptoms that can complicate forming an accurate diagnosis. While art often evades reduction to a single meaning or “reading,” successful diagnosis and treatment of patients relies on the physician’s ability to uncover vital information that is sometimes obscured. My work implies that what unites these two kinds of “searching” is the importance of a holistic approach, taking into account the body, mind and emotions.

Q: What artistic skills do you think apply in medicine?
A: An artist must respond to a changing medium with precision, altering technique based upon preceding actions. When painting, I have to analyze the information present on the canvas, deciding my next brush strokes based upon the composition, light and values already present in front of me. These observational skills are applicable in the clinical setting in patient interviews.

Q: What was your most interesting class and why?
A: Contemporary Art in the Venice Biennale with professor Jay Curley. Half of the class was taught at Wake Forest, while the remaining two weeks were spent in Venice, Italy, seeing the art in person. We not only saw the artwork we studied, but we actually experienced many large-scale installation pieces in the pavilions that we could walk through with visual, auditory and olfactory components. One of my favorites was Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s rêvolutions in the French Pavilion featuring three self-powered mobile trees moving by their metabolism while the room resonated with electrical humming.

Q: Did you study abroad?
A: I studied abroad my sophomore spring semester through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. The biggest thing I learned is to always take an opportunity to try something new. Admittedly, I didn’t always like everything I tried (fermented shark tastes exactly how it sounds), but I did fall in love with things I never thought possible, like the hygge of coffee shops and riding bikes as the main form of transportation (I didn’t know how to ride a bike before). No matter where you study abroad or travel, each location has a history and a culture. You owe it to yourself and the city to truly experience things like a local, whether it is trying new food, learning phrases in a new language, seeing art, or experiencing cultural festivals.

Q: What are your post-graduation plans?
A: I will be attending Wake Forest School of Medicine in the fall, hoping to eventually become a surgeon. Currently, my interests lie in transplant and cardiothoracic surgery. The leading cause of death in the world is ischemic heart disease. However, many of these diseases are currently incurable and require transplantation, yet the deficit between tissue need versus donation tissue supply has significantly increased in the last decade. Regenerative medicine has emerged as a possible solution to supplement this need. As an undergraduate, I have had the wonderful opportunity to gain research experience at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, including studying particulate oxygen generators as a possible oxygen supply for ischemic tissues and researching an eccentric exercise muscle regeneration model after compression injury. This exposure to regenerative medicine research has inspired me to pursue transplant surgery.

Q: What has surprised you most about your four years at Wake Forest?
A: The most impressive part about Wake Forest is the community and the amazing people I have met. The faculty care about the students, taking time to get to know individuals. Once, I talked to a professor for over two hours about traveling in Europe. The community is a huge part of why I ultimately decided to stay at Wake Forest for another four years for medical school, and I am proud to say I will be a Double Deac.

Q: What is your best advice for freshmen?
A: Get to know the people! The faculty here are absolutely phenomenal, and each person has a unique story to tell. Also, take advantage of your time in college to try something new. Take that physics of music class or religion in hip-hop.