2021 Participants

2021 Participants

Buena Vista University  |  Coe College  |  Cornell College  |  Dordt University
Grinnell College  |  Loras College  |  Waldorf University 


Buena Vista University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Brittany Dinkel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology

Student Research Assistant: Jade Hays, NSF REU in Microbiology and Immunology

UI Faculty Collaborator: David Weiss, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology


This was my third summer participating in the FUTURE program and each year I have learned valuable skills and techniques to bring back to BVU. Our project took an unexpected turn this year, which ended up being a blessing as I got to learn more about protein analysis.  This will enhance not only microbiology but also biochemistry at BVU.  I look forward to continuing this beneficial relationship with my host PI David Weiss, the FUTURE program, and the University of Iowa.

~Brittney Dinkel, PhD

This summer has opened my eyes to what science can truly be: exhausting and so, so rewarding. 

~Jade Hays


Coe College

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Fellow: Daniel Hughes, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology

Student Research Assistant: Delaney Throckmorton

UI Faculty Collaborator: Robert Cornell, PhD, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology


To expose an undergraduate student from my college to the professional opportunities in the Carver College of Medicine was an extremely rewarding experience for us. I will definitely recommend this program to my colleagues.  It really was a wonderful experience for both of us! We are both grateful for the opportunity and had a great time.

~Daniel Hughes, PhD

When I was first approached about participating in the FUTURE program, I did not have overly high expectations. I remember explaining the program to my parents and saying, “I think it could be a good experience, but I don’t like research.” I’m so thankful that my mom told me to give it one more chance, because at that point in time, I believed that I would never have a career involved in research and only wanted to go to medical school.

After this summer, however, I have completely changed my perception of incorporating research into my career - it is something I want to do daily now. I still want to go to medical school as well, so it was great to hear from current MSTP (MD/PhD) students about their experiences. This opportunity would not have been possible without the great lab that opened their space to us and extended their time to get us up to speed on the project.

The Cornell lab was also a major part in making this experience as amazing as it was, so I hope to continue collaborating with them on this project. Even though we’ve injected over 3,500 embryos this summer, I can’t wait to keep injecting more in the near future. Another huge thank you to everyone who made this experience possible for me - you’ve helped change my entire view on a research career.

~Delaney Throckmorton


Cornell College

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Barbara Christie-Pope, PhD, Professor of Biology

Student Research Assistant: Nolan Zeger

UI Faculty Collaborator: Robert Cornell, PhD, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology


I have had the opportunity to work during the summer in a lab at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, a total of six times over the last decade as part of the FUTURE program.  Students from Cornell College have joined me each time and have also worked in the same lab doing credit-bearing independent projects during the academic year.

The FUTURE program was seminal to these students, giving them exposure to cutting-edge research and enhancing their growth as scientists.  In addition, the FUTURE program allowed me, personally, to improve the quality of my teaching and expand my ability to excite future scientists.

~Barbara Christie-Pope, PhD

I enjoyed working in the Cornell lab, using CRISPR/Cas9 to investigate grhl3 in Zebrafish.  Thanks to all the researchers who helped me with this project.

~Nolan Zeger


Dordt University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Manuela AA Ayee, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering

Student Research Assistants: Gretchen Stennett, Tabitha Verhage, and Ivana Harsono

UI Faculty Collaborator: Robert Piper, PhD, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics


This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City to participate as a Senior Faculty Fellow in the FUTURE in Biomedicine Program. Three undergraduate students from Dordt University were able to participate in the program with me: two on location in Iowa City and one remotely on Dordt’s campus. The students in Iowa City greatly appreciated the opportunity to live in the dorms on campus at the U of I, and to actively participate and learn wet lab techniques.

We were taught procedures that were new to us and had the chance to use equipment that is not available on our campus. We combined this wet lab work with the computational aspect of our project as we accessed the high-performance computing cluster located on the Dordt campus. All three students learned to build, run, and analyze molecular dynamics simulations over the course of the summer. They will all continue working part-time on the project during the upcoming academic year as we advance this collaborative work.

I particularly appreciated the help we received in our host lab (the Piper lab), especially the time and effort taken by many in the lab to train us, answer questions, and generally provide a very welcoming environment. This experience had my students considering graduate school options (especially in Iowa City) and will enable me to advise other students on the merits of a graduate school education at the University of Iowa.

It was a valuable time and helped to catalyze and solidify research collaborations for me. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate, and for the accommodation of two of my students on campus.

~Manuela A.A. Ayee, PhD

The FUTURE program opened my eyes in so many ways that I didn't think were possible for me as an undergrad. In the last nine weeks, I have learned more than I ever could have imagined. Before arriving on the University of Iowa's campus, I honestly did not know what to expect. I knew the basic idea of the research but had absolutely no clue what it was actually going to look like. I had no idea just how many things I would learn about and become passionate about. 

This program and project provided me with the opportunity to work in a wet lab, run molecular dynamics simulations, network within in the scientific field, and present my research. Even though I had very limited experience in all of these things, when I arrived on campus, I found myself surrounded by people willing to guide and teach me. The people that I worked with never looked down on me because I was the youngest and had the least experience. Instead, they tried to help me understand and answered my many questions. I will be forever grateful for this program because it taught me how to be okay with not knowing everything. It taught me how to learn new things, ask questions, and adjust along the way. It also taught me that I really do have a passion for research, especially in biomedicine. 

I love how I have been gifted the opportunity to be a part of a research project that may someday provide answers for many people. Even though I spent most of my time growing a protein and setting up simulations, I hope that someday, people suffering from Charcot Marie Tooth Disease will be given more definitive answers because of this research. The work we did this summer was very preliminary and didn't provide answers, but, we helped lay a foundation for future research to make a much larger impact. 

This summer was overall an amazing experience for me. I will always look back on the past eight weeks with such joy and thankfulness that I was given the chance to learn so much about science, research, and myself.  

~Gretchen Stennett

I really appreciate the opportunity I got this summer to work in Dr. Piper’s lab. I only was able to do this as a result of the FUTURE in Biomedicine program. Through this summer I gained invaluable lab skills, along with gaining direction for my future. I was able to try a career and discover I love it. Through this program I was able to discover the world of lab work and research, and gain a passion for it.  Thank you for this opportunity.

~Tabitha Verhage

This summer, I was given the opportunity to participate in the FUTURE of Biomedicine Summer Research program. I participated from Dordt University and helped the team that was doing lab-related research in Iowa University. I think what was cool to experience this summer was that I get to witness the things I had been introduced to in high school biology and chemistry textbook applied and explored in real life.

In our team’s research, we were looking at how a mutation in Human MPZ could possibly affect the myelin sheath in the peripheral nervous system and therefore causes CMT. It was very interesting to learn deeper about the structure and importance of a protein, its compositions, and its interaction with other macromolecules in the cell membrane.

Moreover, this summer, I got the chance to cultivate new skills: using programming and scripts to run computer simulations. I also learned about the process of research, and that research takes curiosity, patience, and perseverance. Overall, this summer research opportunity has been very memorable and valuable for my experience. 

~Ivana Harsono


Grinnell College

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Keisuke Hasegawa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physics

Student Research Assistant: Bailey McElligott

UI Faculty Collaborator: Maria Spies, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry


I would like to thank Dr. Madeline Shea, Ms. Sonya Housholder and the Carver College of Medicine for giving me the opportunity to return to the FUTURE in Biomedicine Program as a Senior Fellow this summer. The program has helped me to establish and maintain a collaboration project with Dr. Maria Spies. By spending 10 weeks at the Carver College of Medicine, I was able to learn new techniques, make significant progress on the project, and establish new connections with people at the University and primarily undergraduate institutions across Iowa.

I also found the weekly FUTURE meetings on various programs at the University very informative, and they will be beneficial for when I advise students at Grinnell. Moreover, the program has provided my student assistant, Bailey McElligott, with an invaluable research experience. This has been an incredible experience, and I look forward to continuing the collaboration project with Dr. Spies and maintaining connections I made through the program.

~Keisuke Hasegawa, PhD

My experience doing research at the University of Iowa this summer has been an overwhelmingly positive one. Being able to focus and learn about an advanced research project has taught me more about what scientists actually do during their daily work.

 I enjoyed working with the Spies Lab and appreciated how willing the members were in teaching me. I would recommend the FUTURE program to a friend because it was an excellent opportunity to see what grad school would be like in a science field, and it was fun to learn new lab techniques. 

~Bailey McElligott


Grinnell College

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Charvann Bailey, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology

Student Research Assistants: Shiva Bunklin and Koffi Amegble

UI Faculty Collaborator: Douglas Spitz, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology


My students and I enjoyed participating in the FUTURE in Biomedicine Program remotely, continuing our collaboration with the lab of Prof. Doug Spitz but doing our benchwork in Grinnell.  My students presented their results during both in-person poster sessions which was a terrific experience for them.

They enjoyed giving a talk about their work to others in the program, and they participated Zoom sessions with directors of clinical and research training programs helped them clarify their professional objectives and preparation for future careers.

I look forward to spending my upcoming sabbatical in the Spitz lab this fall, and would encourage other faculty to apply to the FUTURE program. Making connections with other faculty throughout Iowa as well as those in Iowa City is a big benefit.

~Charvann Bailey, PhD

Although my Lab group participated virtually in the Futures Program, we never felt like we were left behind. We were still able to learn about the great programs offered at the University of Iowa (of which I now plan on applying to), and also were able to connect with the staff, our collaborators and the rest of the students in the program. If not graduating from college, I would love to have the full experience in person in Iowa City next summer. 

~Shiva Bucklin

Participating in the University of Iowa’s FUTURE in Biomedicine program instilled me with gratitude. I had the opportunity to conduct research at my college and establish bonds with other scientists and future researchers from across Iowa. I loved seeing different approaches to tackling problems and questions facing our world today and the work the program’s members dedicated to solving them.

~Koffi Amegble


Loras College

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Andrew Kehr, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Student Research Assistant: Brianna Arreguin

UI Faculty Collaborator: Sheila Baker, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry


The FUTURE in Biomedicine program has created a remarkable opportunity for my students and me.  Coming to a new school and creating collaborations out of thin air can be daunting.  However, because of the FUTURE program, I was able to meet Dr. Sheila Baker and immediately start a fruitful research collaboration

 I am appreciative of the experiences afforded to my students as they get to see what day-to-day operations look like in an R1 lab environment and additionally appreciative of the library resources I can use to benefit my students. Thank you.

~Andrew Kehr, PhD

I had the pleasure of working with the Future’s program both this year and last year. While I unfortunately was only able to work with the Future’s Program remotely both times, it was still such an amazing experience. I was able to work with the Baker’s lab remotely last year, while growing meaningful relationships with them. In doing so I was able to grow closer to the Baker lab and do a lot of research with them.

I will continue to do more research with them as I have decided to use this research as my Senior Thesis which will go towards earning my biochemistry degree. The FUTURE program also gave me the opportunity to see all the different types of research that were being done all over the Midwest and learn many new things that I never knew before.

It also allowed me to learn more about potential professional careers that I had not known about previously. I loved being a part of the Future’s program and hope that many will get the chance to have the same experience that I did. 

~Brianna Arreguin


Waldorf University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Fellow: Bharat Bhattarai, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair

Student Research Assistant: Rakshya Thapa

UI Faculty Collaborator: Brandon Davies, PhD, Associate Professor of Biochemistry


It was a great refreshing experience being back to full time research after several years of gap of active research. This opportunity reenergized me towards future research. I will be exploring for long term research collaboration with UI faculties, and to utilize the research facilities at UI CCOM.

For my student, who has limited research opportunity at my institution, it has been an eye-opening opportunity. It provided a great chance for her to learn about basic science research and about different career opportunities, such as MD, PhD, PA and PT.

~Bharat Raj Bhattarai, PhD

I am extremely thankful for this wonderful opportunity to participate in the FUTURE program this summer. This was my first full-time research experience, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Not only did the FUTURE program help me realize my passion towards biochemistry but the program also helped me learn about the opportunities that I could explore in this research area after I graduate. I cannot thank FUTURE program and Dr. Davies lab enough for letting me be a part of such an amazing learning experience. 

~Rakshya Thapa


Waldorf University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Gary Coombs, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology 

UI Faculty Collaborator: Lori Wallrath, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry


The FUTURE in Biomedicine program continues to benefit both faculty and students at Waldorf University. One of my students, who participated in the program in 2016, went on to Dental School at the University of Iowa, graduated this year, and returned to Mason City, near Waldorf, to begin his first practice. Another student, who participated in 2018, went on to win multiple summer internships on her own, and obtained a technician position in a cancer immunology lab at Harvard when she graduated this past spring.

Funding that was provided to the Wallrath lab this summer to help me participate as a Senior FUTURE Fellow (my 4th summer with the program) was used in part to provide resources for RT-qPCR experiments required by reviewers to allow resubmission of a manuscript to the journal "Redox Biology".

In addition to benefits from participation during some summers, the FUTURE program has helped me to establish fruitful collaborations with several established investigators at UI, who have provided materials and methods for projects that I have incorporated into my teaching in General Biology (a Freshman course), Genetics, Cell & Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, and Senior Research. These projects include vector construction, mutagenesis, transgene mapping, drug studies, and immunofluorescence.

The FUTURE program has also provided me with access to graduate students, post-docs, and UI faculty who have given presentations at Waldorf's annual research symposium "Inquirere", and participated in several symposia I organized for the Iowa Academy of Science.

~Gary Coombs, PhD