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Meet Ameya Walimbe

Ameya Walimbe
Date: Monday, November 4, 2019

Graduate program: Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Undergraduate institution: University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

Hometown: Novi, Michigan

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your graduate degree?

The research and training environments are world-class. Not only is Iowa a world leader in many fields of research, but students who have trained in these labs have successfully gone on to pursue distinguished careers in science and medicine. Iowa is also unique because, despite its world-class reputation, it has a graduate-student feel to it. The faculty really focus on mentoring students and this sets up students for success.

What type of research are you performing?

I study extremely rare forms of muscular dystrophy known as dystroglycanopathy. These occur because cells (i.e. muscle fibers, cardiomyocytes, neurons) are unable to adhere to the surrounding extracellular matrix. This leads to weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles as well as nervous system abnormalities such as hydrocephalus and epilepsy.

What do you hope to do after you earn your degree?

After defending my PhD, I will return to medical school to finish the MD part of my MD-PhD degree. I will then pursue a research track residency to become an academic physician-scientist.

What is something that surprised you about the University of Iowa or your graduate program?

The faculty are a lot of fun! I often see faculty members I know at sporting events, downtown at some of my favorite restaurants, or skiing on the nearby cross-country trails.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student?

The pure emphasis on doing science. In molecular physiology and biophysics, we have very few courses to take and few teaching requirements. This really frees up your time so you can focus on doing experiments.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

My advisor, Dr. Kevin Campbell, is my biggest role model. Not only is he an internationally renowned scientist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, but he is an excellent mentor. Very often, he will go out of his way to be available and give me feedback on my work. He also teaches me to perform the important experiments, (i.e. the ones that really get at the heart of what you are trying to study).

What are some of your personal interests?

I enjoy anything outdoorsy and active (backpacking, cycling, cross country and downhill skiing). I also like to cook and have travelled extensively.

A piece of advice for incoming graduate students.

Pick a lab based on the quality and reputation of the advisor, and not on the topic of study. Despite how seemingly unrelated their field of study is to your interests, the best advisors will have projects that interest you, and the training you receive in such labs will benefit you far better in your career.