2012 Participants

2012 FUTURE Class

Coe College  |  Dordt College  |  Drake University  |  Hawkeye Community College  |  Simpson College

Coe College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Paul Storer, PhD, assistant professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Molly Schlichenmayer

UI Faculty Host: Andrew Russo, PhD, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics

Project: The role of microglia in epigenetic gene activation during migraine.


As I look back on the past 8 weeks, I can't help but to feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to work, and form collaborations, with such a wonderful lab at the University of Iowa. Since I have started at Coe College, I have been hopeful to communicate with and make such connections with similar-interest laboratories at the U of I. My involvement with the FUTURE program came at such an opportune time, and really gave me the chance to get to learn about the various departments and cores at the U of I. Most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to make the connection that I thought was so important for being able to make my research endeavors a more well-rounded entity that I could translate into a more fruitful research program at Coe.

The best thing about this FUTURE association with the laboratory of Andy Russo was the two-way exchange of ideas and concepts that was adopted and supported from the beginning. I have learned so much coming out of this collaboration, but at the same time, I feel as though I may have made a small contribution the scope of expertise in the Russo lab. I feel that my student, Molly Schlichenmayer, and I were welcomed whole-heartedly and amde to feel like we were an integral part of the lab from the start. This sense of "belonging" was key in making Molly and me feel comfortable, and absolutely led to the fact that we got so much accomplished in such a little amount of time.

I am excited to think about the long-term benefits of this collaboration for myself and Coe College. Additionally, I am now much more confident about my knowledge of many of the programs at the U of I, which will be of great benefit when I advise my undergraduates as they ponder their future in the medical and bioscience fields.

Paul Storer, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

This summer has been an amazing experience for me. In addition to learning many new techniques and procedures I got to see first-hand how research is conducted in an academic setting. My project was something that was very interesting to me and I was genuinely excited to get to be a part of it. The opportunity to work alongside my professor, my PI and all of teh staff in the lab gave me a chance to really understand what a career in research is like. Through the FUTURE program I was able to gain experience and knowledge that will beneift me in my future, and I also had a great time!

Molly Schlichenmayer
Undergraduate Researcher

Dordt College Participants

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Kayt Frisch, PhD, assistant professor of engineering

Student Research Assistant: Lee Veldkamp 

UI Faculty Host: Eric Hoffman, PhD, professor of radiology

Project: Modeling mechanical behaviors of the lung using computational fluid dynamics.


Creating meaningful research experiences for undergraduates at a small college can be extremely challenging. The announcement for the FUTURE program came at an opportune time for me; I was a first year faculty member at a small college who was contemplating how to start my own undergraduate research program. Participating in the FUTURE program has opened new avenues for my research by allowing me to work with a group that uses different tools, techniques and questioning strategies than the ones I learned in graduate school. 

My host-group and I are concluding our summer collaboration by gathering data for a mini-study that we plan to use as the groundwork for further collaboration and hopefully as a spring-board for a grant proposal. In addition, the program's ongoing courtesy appointment that allows access to UI library and (hopefully) campus computing resources will make a huge different in my ability to be a productive scholar-teacher when I am back at Dordt. These opportunities for resources and connections that the FUTURE program has provided are helping me get my own undergraduate research program started; however, these types of connections are invaluable for any faculty member doing research with undergraduates at a small college and I would highly recommend participating in the FUTURE program to any small-college science faculty.

In addition to the research resources, the opportunity to learn about UI - the strengths of its programs and what it values in potential graduate students - are insights that will benefit me and my school as we consider curriculum and advise students. Having learned about the programs here I am much more likely to encourage a student to consider UI for graduate school.

Thank you for creating the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to strengthen my own research skills, develop new collaborations and loearn about the graduate programs at the University of Iowa. This program is a fantastic way to make the Carver College of Medicine and the University of Iowa a leader in the STEM initiative for promoting and facilitating undergraduate research because it connects and supports the smaller colleges around the state.

Kayt Frisch, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

I've learned a lot about what it means to work in university research. It is a very different environment than from a smaller college.

If you don't try something, you don't know if you will like it so if you are at all interested in doing research later on in your life, this, or something like it, is a must.

Lee Veldkamp
Undergraduate Researcher

Drake University Participants

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Debora Christensen, PhD, assistant professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Kristin Dahlem

UI Faculty Host: Deborah L. Segaloff, PhD, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics

Project: Novel roles of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) receptor in pregnancy.


My experience in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has been overwhelmingly positive! From the onset, FUTURE program administrators worked diligently to ensure that my particular research interests and goals were well matched with those of my host laboratory and that the transition to working at the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) was as seamless as possible. I quickly felt at home in my host lab, where I was able to build on previous research experiences and techniques to broaden the scope of my research into new areas.

At a small liberal arts college like Drake, it can be difficult to find time to focus exclusively on research. The FUTURE program provided the support that allowed me to do just that: focus on research and investigate a novel aspect of reproductive endocrinology in a way that would have been more challenging at my home institution.

Access to state-of-the-art facilities, donor tissues, terrific collaborators, and world-class experts have made for a first-rate experience! I've been able to hone my histology skills, gain confidence in specialized lab techniques, and expand my intellectual horizon. I know the nature of my research and teaching will be shaped by this experience, and hope that it leads to future collaborations with the CCOM.

Deb Christensen, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

Before participating in the FUTURE program, I had little research experience outside of classroom lab settings. This program gave me the opportunity to see what a real laboratory is like, as well as the opportunity to actually contribute to the rsearch being conducted. Also, working alongside my professor from Drake, my PI, and a wonderful post-doctoral student, I was able to experience a collaborative lab environment. I learned so much from their expertise! I learned how to use immunohistochemistry methods to visualize follicle stimulating hormone receptor, and I was trained on multiple pieces of equipment including a light microscope and a microtome. In addition, I learned a tremendous amount about presenting data in oral presentations as well as poster sessions. This experience has been phenomenal and truly eye opening; I would highly recommend the FUTURE program to anyone interested in science or medicine.

Kristin Dahlem
Undergraduate Researcher

Hawkeye Community College Participants

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: D. Randy Mercer, PhD, instructor of natural sciences 

Student Research Assistant: Quynh Nguyen

UI Faculty Host: Wendy Maury, PhD, professor of microbiology

Project: Distribution of Wobachia in an indigenous species of mosquito in California.


This has been a great experience for me. I hope that I have met the expectations as a Fellow and the first recruited from an Iowa community college. Having the opportunity to carry out research has been personally gratifying and professionally enriching. Participation in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Research Program has allowed me to establish collaborations that will, hopefully, continue into the future. In particular, I have benefitted from exposure to the Carver School of Medicine Core Research Facilities, the library and, especially, interactions with my host, Dr. Wendy Maury.

As a mosquito researcher, I have focused on the organismal, population and ecosystem levels. Although I had a theoretical understanding of molecular techniques, before the FUTURE Program, I did not have the opportunity to perform them. During the past weeks, I have amplified and cloned DNA and used the DNA Facility to sequence pcr amplicons. Based upon Dr. Maury's explanations, I am now able to analyze and interpret the outcomes with applications in ways that are relevant at the evolutionary and disease transmission levels.

Having access to a multitude of international journals has supported our research; I am grateful that I will have access to the University of Iowa Library in the future to assist manuscript and proposal development. It was very useful to ahve housing so close to campus; the furnished apartment was comfortable and allowed me to concentrate on research. I have enjoyed meeting peers from other Iowa institutions and learned a great deal about the programs of study at the University of Iowa. Thus, I'm better prepared to counsel students on opportunities at Iowa. All together, the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Research Program and the Carver School of Medicine have provided me an opportunity to work creatively with students and peers.

D. Randy Mercer, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

All I can say is "GREAT".

Participation in the FUTURE program is a valuable experience. I have learned a lot in 8 weeks: how to work in a lab environment, how to perform research, and what medical techniques are. It makes me appreciate the time and effort scientists put on their work.

I love doing problem solving. Challenges scare, but interest me. Every time the experiment did not turn out as it "should" have, I got frustrated, and I must know "why". I think I've found my enthusiasm and sketched my future path. I would tell my story about the FUTURE in Biomedicine program to everyone I know, anyone who enjoys science or who wants to attend graduate school. My story will start with "It's GREAT".

Quynh Nguyen
Undergraduate Researcher

Simpson College Participants

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Justin Brown, PhD, assistant professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Emily Magers

UI Faculty Host: Kathleen A. Sluka, PhD, PT, professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science

Project: Preventing tolerance to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).


Through participating in the FUTURE Program I have been fortunate to receive financial and professional support to engage in biomedical research and to lay the foundation for continued research collaboration. Working in the labs run by Dr. Kathleen Sluka nd Dr. Barbara Rakel, I've learned research techniques that will help me to better mentor my student at Simpson College and to provide them the research experiences that are needed for post-graduate education in the biosciences. Importantly, because the FUTURE Program provides funding for undergraduate research assistants, I was able to work with a student who became interested in MSTP training through her research experience this summer.

Moreover, the FUTURE Program has introduced me to Iowa neuroscientists at the University of Iowa, at Drake University, and at Coe College. As a recent transplant to Iowa, these connections will be invaluable to my research and for increasing my students' exposure to research careers. Lastly, I'll add that, through regular workshops, the FUTURE Program has better educated me on the most recent practices in medical and graduate school admissions. As I return to Simpson College, this knowledge will help me to better prepare students to succeed at the University of Iowa, and more generally in biosciences professional schools.

Justin Brown, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

I had a plan. I was going to graduate from Simpson College, get a medical degree and then go on to save lives around the world. Working on a research project was never part of that plan. In fact, I hated the idea of research. It seemed drawn out and about as exciting as watching water boil. However, when Justin introduced the FUTURE Program to my introductory biology class, research suddenly seemed to have the potential to be interesting. I was overjoyed when I was accepted to be the research assistant, but coming to the University of Iowa, especially for research, was never part of my plan. The unfamiliarity of the idea was terrifying.

Through participating in the FUTURE Program, I have had great mentors who have held my hand, guided me, and then allowed me to show them my potential. I was not expecting to have such a large role in the research study, but instead I was responsible for the entire TENS part of the procedure. I looked forward to coming in every day and doing the same procedure repeatedly, but I was always looking forward to Friday. The exciting part was on Fridays, when I would be able to see if the numbers were supporting our hypothesis.  I enjoyed helping set up the experiment as much as running it for the past six weeks.

The FUTURE Program and research study have shown me first hand that research is not about watching water boil, but figuring out why it boils. The benefits of our research study, such as possibly providing information to help others use TENS more effectively, have left me wanting to continue to do research in the future. Before starting the program, there were two paths to choose from: D.O. or M.D. The time I have spent this summer doing clinical research has opened up new paths. However, my new found interest in research studies could never replace my passion to practice medicine. Luckily, the FUTURE program has also shown me that there are ways I can do both.

Emily Magers
Undergraduate Researcher

Support for the 2012 Program

  • CCOM Office of the Dean
  • Coe College
  • Dordt College
  • Drake University
  • Hawkeye Community College
  • Simpson College