Research Project

Each student is required to complete a research project during their course of study. The purpose of the research project is to give the student experience with developing a research question, reviewing relevant literature, proposing how to answer a research question and facilitating completion of this process. Research projects enhance a student’s professional development and represent a strong component of experience that they gain during the program. Projects can range in topic area and may include laboratory involvement, case studies or survey development. All projects are required to have defined goals and/or hypothesis to be tested. Institutional review board application and review is often required for student research. Publication and professional presentation are strongly encouraged.

First year responsibilities:

-Students attend multiple meetings with a department assigned representative to help culminate areas of research interest, current topics of research in the genetic counseling field or other current projects occurring within VCU.

-Students are given instructions and assistance with developing a research proposal and protocol.

-Students are assisted in picking a research adviser who will oversee their research project. Regular meetings between the student and advisor are encouraged.

-Students typically start project/survey development during their first year.

Second year responsibilities:

-Students often need to Obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for their project.

-The students must select other individuals to be a part of the research committee. The research committee must include at least three faculty members within the department of human genetics. Additional members from outside the project may be added if needed for optimal project advising.

-Students must complete all research, data analysis, project development with the assistance of their research advisor and assistance from other committee members.

-Students present their finalized project during the departmental research seminar.

-Prior to graduation, each student will submit a formal written document that encompasses their research project. This document is discussed and defended by the student during their oral exam. The oral exam is attended by the student, research advisor, research committee and one department appointed advocate. 



  • Joshua Barnhart, “Genetic Counselors’ Perspectives on Proactive Genetic Testing”
  • Alesky Caffo, "Preconception and pregnant women’s attitudes and perceptions towards carrier screening:  A scoping review"
  • Danika Coulson, “Exploring Genetic Counselors’ Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A)”
  • Allison Gossen, “Delivering Bad News in Genetic Counseling via Telephone:
    Evaluating Distress, Perceived Personal Control, and Satisfaction in Patiet”
  • Quinn Hurshman, “Perceptions of Social Rejection and Fear in Individuals with Mosaic Down Syndrome”
  • Yi Liu, “An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: The Lived Experience of Emerging Adults at Risk for Gastric Cancer Due to a CDH1 Variant in Medical Management Decision Making”
  • Jordyn Prell, “Defining the Roles of Laboratory Genetic Counseling Assistants and Important Factors in the GC-GCA Relationship”
  • Emily Seckington, “An Analysis of the Lived Experience of Patients Incidentally Found to Carry a Pathogenic TP53 Mutation”
  • Samantha Seymour, “Assessing Perceived Patient Support for Pregnancy Termination due to the Detection of Fetal Anomalies”
  • Rebekah Zee, “Psychopathology Among Individuals with Mosaic Down Syndrome:
    Relationship Between Percent of Trisomic Cells and Degrees of Anxiety and Depression


  • Laura Braunstein, “The effect of select modifiable lifestyle factors on breast cancer risk in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers: A systematic review of the evidence”
  • Cody Carlson, “Genetic Testing Interpretation: An Assessment of Cardiology Fellows’ Knowledge”
  • Jessica Dagher, “Assessing Virginia Healthcare Provider Confidence Surrounding Somatic Tumor Testing”
  • Allyson Derting, “Genetic Counseling Assessments of Guilt in Relation to Perceptions of Condition Severity”
  • Meaghan Dwan, “Reproductive Endocrinologists’ Utilization of Genetic Counselors and
    their Services: Is there an Unmet Need?”
  • Wendy Ho, “Development of A Career Video About Genetic Counseling to Raise Awareness for High School Minority Students”
  • Sara Hunter, Ethical Perspectives of Genetic Counselors And Genetic Counseling Students Regarding Assisted Reproductive Technology”
  • Mary-Beth Roberts, Decision-making Facilitation Techniques and Barriers among Genetic Counselors”
  • Camerun Washington, "Saving money on medical genetic tests: An exploration in utilization management


  • Natalie Dykzeul, “22q11.2 deletion syndrome: psychiatrist self-report of knowledge of mental health implications and willingness to act in providing clinical services”
  • Dara Harris, “Perceptions of the appropriateness of prenatal care providers' word choices”
  • Connor Linehan, “An exploration of state Medicaid coverage for BRCA1/2 genetic testing”
  • Anna Moh, Do Years of Experience as a Genetic Counselor Affect Likelihood to Pursue Carrier Screening?”
  • Rebecca Procopio, "Development and creation of a children's book on 22q11.2 deletion syndrome"
  • Kaitlyn Riley, “Does an Individual’s Perceived Severity of Their Positive Genetic Test Results Influence Whether They Post about it on a Social Media Site?”
  • Lindsey Sawyer, “Striving to Fulfill a Duty to Recontact - Efficacy of Mailed Letters”
  • Jordan Snajczuk, “Exploring Women’s Perceived Support for Abortion Due to Fetal Anomaly:
    Stigma in the Medical Community"
  • Erin Tanner, "An Exploration of African American Women’s Confidence in the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act


  • Valentina Caceres, “Chilean Fertility Doctors’ Opinions on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Preimplantation Genetic Screening
  • Kevin Capehart, “Assessing Factors That Influence the Application Process Among Prospective Genetic Counseling Students
  • Katie Pugh, “A Qualitative Comparison of Telegenetics vs. In-Person Genetic Counseling: the Counselors’ Experience
  • Berkely Schmidt, “A Survey of Healthcare providers Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Patients With Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
  • Jennifer van Gelder, “Parents’ Perspectives on the Usefulness of Genetic Testing for Understanding the Etiology of a Child’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Effects of Genetic Testing on Management
  • Anna Yarrow, “Recruitment and Utilization of Rare Disease Registries within the Genetic Counseling Community


  • Katelyn Blondino, “Measuring Support in Abortion Procedures Performed for Anomalies"
  • Audrey Gregory, “Genetic Counselor Referrals to Hospital Chaplains
  • Joyti Khokhar, ”Children’s Understanding of Their Diagnosis of Cleft Lip and/or Palate"
  • Jenn Lent, “Facilitating Discussions about the Psychiatric Phenotypes of 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome
  • Samantha Rhine, “Knowledge and Confidence of Genetic Counselors with State Laws and Training for Managing the Option of Abortion in the Setting of Fetal Anomalies
  • Ernestina Sanchez, “Comparison of Phenotypic Findings Associated with Mosaic Down Syndrome Based On Reviews of Patient Medical Records, Direct Physician Exam and Parent Entered Information via The DS-Connect Registry"


  • Lindsay Bailey, “End of Life Discussions: Exploring How To Talk about Hereditary Cancer at the End of Life
  • Melissa Beyer, “The Changing Age of Individuals Seeking Presymptomatic Genetic Testing for Huntington Disease
  • Shannon Doyle, “Telegenetics for Cancer Risk Assessment: An Evaluation from the Point of View of the Referring Physician
  • Meredith McDaniel, “Directiveness in Genetic Counseling: Adapting to Increasingly Complex Tests
  • Haley Pace, “Incidental Findings From Whole Exome Sequencing: Non-geneticists Physicians’ Perscpectives


  • Kayla Claxton, “Down Syndrome: An Assessment of Resource Needs and the Production of a Documentary Film
  • Kelly Curd, “Attitudes of Prenatal Genetic Counselors Regarding Pan Ethnic Carrier Screening and Development of a Pre-Counseling Informational Mobile Website
  • Daniel Gallo, “Evaluation of Informational Materials Explaining Clinical Whole Exome Sequencing
  • Jill Harris, “Parental Gender Differences: Perceptions of a Child Diagnosed with a Craniofacial Difference and the Effects on Child Adjustment"
  • Jessica White, “The Impact of Race on Cancer Health Prevention Screening Behaviors in the Presence of a Patient-Family Communication Intervention