Alumni Spotlight | Summer 2020
KU major: Genetics, Class of 1992
Current occupation: Specialist Physician in rural Kansas/Missouri
Research mentors while at KU: Professor William Dentler
Describe the undergraduate research/creative experience that you had while at KU: As an undergraduate at KU, I was involved in two completely different research opportunities. 1. I spent one summer in Kremmling, Colorado with a small group of undergraduates from KU assisting our graduate student advisor capturing, gathering biometric information and tagging newly born pronghorn antelope. 2. As a junior, I was invited to get involved in basic lab research studying the mechanism of ciliogenesis in a trachea model. This exposed me for the first time to true bench research. The application of the scientific method in a creative and explorative environment hooked me on the intellectual joys of research. Dr. Dentler taught me that using microscopes as part of any job can inspire joy and wonder.
Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research?
A: You need to feel a passion to get involved and succeed in research. If you are driven by this passion and have good mentors and resources, your research possibilities are endless.
Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?
A: Talk to all your professors and graduate student assistants after class or at office hours and find out what they study. They are teaching and involved in academics because they enjoy it and there is nothing more gratifying than a great dialogue with an interested student. If something piques your interest, then ask to get involved.
Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation? How so?
A: I use my science skills and problem solving skills learned in my science training every day in diagnosing, treating and explaining the autoimmune diseases that afflict my patients.
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: Be assertive about talking to your professors about quality career paths, graduate programs and other research colleagues around the world. You will be amazed at the connections and how that can guide your next stage of education.