Ronald Berna

Senior math major and VURF recipient Ronald Berna, used his VURF travel grant to conduct research at the Boston Children's Hospital this summer.

On his experience:

“For ten weeks during summer 2017, I worked as an undergraduate researcher within the Health map research group at Boston Children's Hospital, while living on the campus of Northeastern University. I was funded both through BCH and through a Villanova CRF Research and Travel Grant.

The principal investigator of my group was John Brownstein, PhD, Professor of Bioinformatics at Harvard Medical School and Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children's Hospital. My direct advisors were Jared Hawkins, Phd, Jonathan Haussman, a rheumatologist and instructor at HMS, and Yulin Hswen, a PhD candidate at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

My project involved analyzing data from the Fever prints iPhone app, an app developed to collect participant-recorded human temperature entries, along with demographic information, medication data, and symptom data. Essentially, I analyzed the data collected from this app, looking at general trends in human temperature among different groups, searching for fever trends for particular illnesses, assessing which medications are commonly taken for fever, and examining the association between fever and particular symptoms. I worked primarily on the computer, using the statistical programming language R. Some of our most significant findings were:

  1. 97.9°F is a more reasonable value for normal human temperature (as opposed to 98.6°F)
  2. 99.8°F is a more reasonable "febrile cutoff" (as opposed to 100.4°F)
  3. Female temperature runs higher throughout the day and on average; this difference persists when comparing individuals >55
  4. Older individuals tend to have lower body temperatures
  5. There is, on average, a 1.0°F fluctuation in temperature over the course of a normal day
  6. Some symptoms, in particular fatigue and rash, are strongly associated with fever, whereas other symptoms, such as runny nose, are not associated with fever
  7. There are interesting differences in antipyretic use across age-groups, but no such differences across genders

For more detailed information on our findings, please contact me.

The research was really fascinating, and I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity to learn, engage in meaningful work, and meet very influential researchers. The CRF Research and Travel Grant made this summer financially easier, enabling me to partake in this really exciting opportunity.”

Contact Information

Center for Research and Fellowships
Garey Hall 38
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Fax: 610-519-6623

Dr. Michael T. Westrate
Director, Center for Research and Fellowships & Presidential Scholars Program

Ms. Catherine M. Stecyk
Associate Director, Center for Research and Fellowships

Dr. John J. Shanley
Assistant Director, Center for Research and Fellowships

Ms. Chelsea T. Benincasa
Program Coordinator, Center for Research and Fellowships & Presidential Scholars Program

Dr. Alexandra M. Was
Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Research and Fellowships