ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT | SUMMER 2019
KU major: Microbiology, Class of 2003
Current occupation: Assistant Professor in Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Research mentors while at KU: Sandra Quackenbush, PhD
Describe the undergraduate research experience that you had while at KU:
A: My undergraduate research project involved work on the walleye dermal sarcoma virus, notably identifying gene alteration in native walleye cells by the virus.
Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research?
A: I learned many aspects of the research process: how to do literature review, critically review journal articles, perform rigorous basic science research, as well as basic laboratory skills.
Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?
A: Learning the "how" of research will help you throughout your career, no matter if your career takes a different direction. I still use the critical appraisal skills I learning as an undergraduate daily, even though I no longer perform basic science research. Also, the most important aspect of your research as an undergraduate is to identify a mentor that can provide you with guidance and skills outside of the lab.
Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation? How so?
A: I am involved in health services research, particularly centered around outcomes after injury and disparities in trauma care. Although this is vastly different from running PCRs or growing cells, I still use the skills I learned from my undergraduate research; notably, critical appraisal of journal articles, hypothesis and study development.
Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?
A: Don't be afraid to change your "plan" - there are frequently many routes to achieve the same goal. If you run into a roadblock on one route - examine other options. Be persistent!