In high school, Jessi Bentley suffered from bone density issues after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder that presents the body from absorbing gluten and can lead to innumerable health issues. After going on a gluten-free diet to manage her symptoms, Bentley’s lower bone density increased and she began researching her disease. Now, after conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Michael Fedewa at The University of Alabama, Bentley’s research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Densitometry. “Right now, we are looking at bone density in adolescents with Celiac Disease and comparing it to adolescents without Celiac,” Bentley said. “Our goal with looking at this is to analyze any possible differences in bone health and compare factors that affect bone health such as a length of time on a gluten free diet, height, and age.” Bentley is a sophomore exercise science major at UA, but got involved with this area of research through the Emerging Scholars Program, a course that allows students to learn research skills and methods, introduces them to leading researchers at UA, and gives them the opportunity to present their research at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Conference. “I knew I wanted to get involved in research when I came to UA as a freshman, but it definitely seemed intimidating,” Bentley said. “But, after taking part in the program, research didn't seem as scary and was a lot of fun. I thought it also helped taking UA 155 with Dr. (Kim) Bissell since she prepared us all very well for tackling our research questions!” For more information on the Emerging Scholars Program, visit our website.