Anthropology Sets the Path for Med School

Shelby Lucia tests out equipment in the John Starbuck’s Image Analysis and Morphometrics Lab.

Undergraduate anthropology student Shelby Lucia works with John Starbuck, Ph.D., to combine her passions of medicine and anthropology. Her research in his lab focuses on the facial morphology of the brain and skull, particularly in children with Down syndrome.

Lucia catalogs CT and MRI image scans provided by Florida Hospital by noting important regions such as maxillary and frontal sinuses, the nasal air passage and mastoid air cells.

“This research is considered part of biological anthropology,” Lucia said. “It allows me to analyze CT and MRI scans and recall human anatomy, important tools in the field of medicine, while analyzing that information utilizing anthropological techniques. I find something very important about this field is its relevance to humans.”

She has been interested in anthropology as long as she can remember.

“As a child, I would carry around a book on ancient Egypt and would speak with anyone even remotely interested in listening,” she said. “Even now, I love learning about different cultures and the impact anthropology can have on humans today.”

This interest led to choosing anthropology as a major when she entered UCF. She first discovered the research opportunity to work in Starbuck’s lab during his Human Origins class, where she immediately knew she wanted to participate.

“Reach out to faculty members if you’re interested in what they’re doing, and do things that will give you an advantage when you graduate,” Lucia said. “Get involved in whatever you are passionate about.”

Once she graduates, Lucia hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor.

“My passion in life is helping others and being an advocate for children, and I truly feel that becoming a doctor allows me to fulfill that passion,” she said. “My time studying anthropology has given me a passion for people and a respect for different cultures that I think will easily translate to my future in medicine.”

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