2013 Participants

2013 FUTURE Class

Cornell College  |  Morningside College  |  Drake University  |  Graceland University  |  Mount Mercy University  |  Univ. of Northern Iowa

Cornell College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Barbara Christie-Pope, PhD, professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Brianna Christensen

UI Faculty Host: Robert Cornell, PhD, associate professor of anatomy and cell biology

Project: Understanding Neurodegeneration - Learning from a Little Fish


The FUTURE program is appropriately named. It truly achieves the goal of uniting undergraduates with research. The program enhances a student's education by demonstrating that science occurs in the laboratory and is filled with challenges and questions that cannot be approached in a classroom or by a textbook. Perhaps more importantly, the FUTURE program unites students with their professors in a way that is unique and engaging. Both become learners and colleagues.

I have had the incredible fortune of participating in the FUTURE program twice. The first summer I was with the program, I began a reciprocal collaboration that has continued for the last 3 years. I have sent 3 students to my host's lab for the summer. One of these students returned to the lab during the academic year to complete his experiments. The connections I have made through the program have allowed me to send 4 other students to University of Iowa laboratories. In addition, my host and his graduate student have given seminars at my institution, and one of my colleagues is redesigning an experimental laboratory module connected to one of his courses which will be based on the work in my host's lab.

The FUTURE program reaches more than just the faculty and their students who directly participate in the program. It enhances the curriculum at the undergraduate institution; it connects the University of Iowa to these institutions through facilities, through expertise, through collaboration. Faculty often feel isolated as the only expert in their particular field at their institution. The FUTURE program allows faculty to refresh and expand their knowledge, to revitalize their teaching, and to actively engage in the process that led them to become scientists in the first place. It truly fosters our passion for science and for teaching.

Barbara Christie-Pope, PhD
Senior FUTURE in Biomedicine

I've benefited in so many different ways from the FUTURE Program. Since I've only completed my freshman year, my exposure to laboratory research is limited. This program allowed me to get the opportunity to gain a variety of terminology and skills, as well as gain an understanding of what research is actually like. It also helped me to get a foot in the door with research, not only for other research opportunities, but with the lab I've made connections with as well. The FUTURE Program provided seminars that helped me understand the process of applying to different graduate programs. I didn't know that you could participate in dual MD/PhD program before this summer, and now I'm heavily considering it as a possibility for me. It has been a great summer!

Brianna Christensen
Undergraduate Researcher

Morningside College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Rachel Robson, PhD, assistant professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Quinton Behlers

UI Faculty Host: Dan Diekema, MD, clinical professor of internal medicine, and Tara Smith, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology

Project: Susceptibility of Community - and Hospital-acquired Staphylococcus aureus Isolates to Two Phages.


Quinton Behlers and I worked with two other students over the course of an entire year at Morningside College to assess whether about 100 samples of Staphylococcus aureus were susceptible to phages, viruses that kill bacteria. Over the course of two months in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program in 2013, Quinton and I collected ten times as much data as he and I had been able to, in a year and with the help of two other colleagues, at our small college in Sioux City. The data from our work in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program will be presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobiol Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in September 2013. This is a prestigious international conference, and it is very rare for undergraduates to attend. Quinton will be not just attending, but presenting at this conference, because of the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program.

Two years ago, I traveled with Morningside student J.P. Conradie to the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, where he was given an award for the research he was presenting there. That research, too, was a result of the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program.

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has given my students the opportunity to present their research at two international conferences, and has resulted in one medical journal article. (So far: Quinton and I are currently preparing our data from our work in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program this summer for submission to a clinical microbiology journal.) The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has given my students access to equipment and materials necessary for conducting high-level biomedical research that are forever out of the reach of a small liberal arts college like Morningside. But the money invested in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program buys much more than just lab supplies. It buys students like Quinton an entirely new perspective. Working for two months with professional scientists - an experience not possible for Quinton had he stayed at an exclusively undergraduate campus like Morningside's - transformed him from a student who wanted to know answers into a scientist who wanted to ask questions. It is this metamorphosis, for Quinton and for so many other students, that I believe will be the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program's legacy.

Small undergraduate colleges cannot provide the kinds of research experiences that places like the University of Iowa can. But that does not mean that students at schools like Morningside are uninterested in research. Quinton's countless hours in the underequipped Morningside College lab last year is just one example of the burning desire that such students have to do research. The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program allows those students to follow that desire. The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program allows students like mine to make real discoveries about science, and about themselves. I am truly grateful to the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program for that opportunity.

Rachel Robson, PhD
Senior FUTURE in Biomedicine

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program was a great opportunity that allowed us to further our research here at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine. We were given sufficient funding that allowed us to use materials and equipment that was not available for us at Morningside College. This opportunity allowed me to understand more about research, which has influenced what I would like to do with my future career. Along with learning a lot about research, this program allowed me to be able to talk with many people associated with the college to learn more about different careers. Thanks again to Dr. Madeline Shea for giving us the opportunity to participate in the program which allowed me to learn a lot and further our research.

Quinton Behlers
Undergraduate Researcher

Drake University

Ruth Ann Henriksen FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Adina Kilpatrick, PhD, assistant professor of physics

Student Research Assistant: Amanda Marwitz

UI Faculty Host: Madeline Shea, PhD, professor of biochemistry

Project: Biophysical Studies of Calmodulin Recognition of the Ryanodine Receptor.


The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program represented a wonderful opportunity to focus exclusively on research for nine weeks, and work on a biophysical project closely related to my overall research interest in calcium-binding proteins. I am very grateful for the support and help of our host this summer, Madeline Shea, and all the members of her lab. Madeline and her group graciously shared their amazing expertise, ideas and state-of-the-art instrumentation, and truly made us feel like members of the lab. Both I and Amanda, the Drake student who accompanied me, improved our existing research skills and learned many new techniques that we will hopefully implement in the future in my lab at Drake. I hope the results of this summer's work will represent the groundwork for continued collaboration with Madeline's lab and will lead to many more exciting results.

In addition to research, I very much enjoyed the many discussions with members of Madeline's lab, participating in lab meetings and weekly FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ meetings and workshops, as well as interacting with peers and students from other undergraduate institutions in Iowa. I also appreciated the opportunity to learn about the programs of study and admission guidelines at the University of Iowa - this information is very useful for me as I have only recently started advising students at Drake. The exchange of ideas during this summer's meetings and discussions, both related to research and teaching, have been amazing, and it will prove invaluable for me as a I return to Drake to develop my biophysical chemistry research program and teach physics and biophysics courses. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program. This experience could not have come at a more opportune time for me, and it will significantly impact my teaching, curriculum development efforts, and research. I hope that many other faculty and students from primarily undergraduate institutions in Iowa will have this opportunity in the future.

Adina Kilpatrick, PhD
Ruth Ann Henriksen FUTURE in Biomedicine

Getting a chance to participate in the FUTURE program was both unexpected and wonderful. As a student who enjoys participating in research, but is applying to Physical Therapy School, I did not see myself as a likely candidate to spend a summer conducting biochemistry research. So, imagine my surprise when Dr. Kilpatrick asked me to join her this summer! Before this summer I did not know what it was like to research full time and to be honest I was not sure if I would like it. Fortunately, I have reallly enjoyed my time this summer, made some good friends, and have learned more than I ever imagined I would. Furthermore, I did not just learn new lab techniquest, but also strengthened my ability to critically think, work in a group, collaborate, and I would recommend this program to anyone interested in science whether they want to go to graduate school or some sort of professional school such as Medical School. Spending a summer immersed in research can be very rewarding  and you will develop skills that will help you in all areas of your life.

Amanda Marwitz
Undergraduate Researcher

Graceland University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Mary Shawgo, PhD, assistant professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Chris Chambers
UI Faculty Host: John Kirby, PhD, associate professor of microbiology
Project: Genetic Regulation of Microbial Communities by a Biofilm Destroyer.


The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program is very comprehensive. It has allowed me to make great connections with the University of Iowa and faculty from other small Iowa universities, as well as strengthen my scientific background.

The program has allowed me to make a great research connection wtih John Kirby, PhD and Susanne Mueller, PhD. We have made plans to continue the project both here at the University of Iowa and at Graceland University. Bringing a student with me this summer has enabled me to bring the project back. Side by side, we have learned the techniques and essential background informaiton to continue our project at Graceland. My student not only learned laboratory techniques, but more importantly has leanred about conducting high quality scientific research. Back home, Chris will be able to help me resume the project earlier than if I worked on it by myself. This will allow my senior research students to have the opportunity to work on a collaborative effort that has the potential to be published and/or presented at a scientific meeting.  These connections also include faculty from small universities that teach similar classes. We have discussed problems, brainstormed ideas, and compared lesson plans to improve the way we teach.

I have gained knowledge and resources to help advise students in their classes, careers, and research. My research background originally is in mammalian cells and cancer signaling. Working at a small university, I have to teach a wide range of classes and help students conduct small research projects outside of my research background. Through this experience I have strengthened my understanding in two popular areas, microbiology and genetics. My student has also learned about potential graduate programs and different career paths. With his first-hand experience here at the University of Iowa, he will be able to provide insight to other students interested in graduate studies.

I have had a wonderful, exciting, and challenging summer. It has been refreshing to be back in the laboratory learning new techniques, analyzing data, and collaborating with scientists involved in cutting edge research. I have had a great summer and look forward to a continued relationship with the University of Iowa.

Mary Shawgo, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

By exposing me to the mentality of research, the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has far exceeded any expectations I had leading up to this summer. The experiences my professor and I had in Dr. Kirby's lab went beyond merely conducting research by integrating experimental design, collaborative effort, and fostering a limitless thirst for understanding. For me, these experimental melodies all combined in to one great symphony of scientific discovery. Now, more than ever before, I know my future will consist of composing studies and conducting research.

Chris Chambers
Undergraduate Researcher

Mount Mercy University

  FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Ryan Bezy, PhD, assistant professor of biology

Student Research Assistant: Jeremy Cline

UI Faculty Host: David Weiss, PhD, associate professor of microbiology

Project: Genetic Analysis of Bacterial Cell Division.


As a professor at a small liberal arts school, it can be difficult to establish a robust research program with so many other demands on your time. The ability to interact with experts as part of the FUTURE program has been incalculable in creating a research project that my undergraduate students can participate in not only this summer but in the future.

Any faculty member wishing to start or build a stronger research program at their school would be hard pressed to find a better opportunity than participating in the FUTURE program at the University of Iowa.

Ryan Bezy, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

This program taught me a lot; I learned what it is like to work in a lab setting with professionals who are recognized in their field. Most importantly, I learned more about how I learn and what I would like to do after school, and after graduate school.

Jeremy Cline
Undergraduate Researcher

University of Northern Iowa

FUTURE in Biomedicine Fellow: Nalin Goonesekere, PhD, associate professor of chemistry
Student Research Assistant: Logan Poole

UI Faculty Host: Michael Henry, PhD, associate professor of molecular physiology and biophysics

Project: Molecular Mechanisms of Prostate Cancer Metastasis.

Ongoing Connection: Dr. Goonesekere has received a $20,000 NSF EPSCoR grant through UNI for "Establishing the Status of Four novel Candidate Cancer Genes as Potential Biomarkers in Pancreatic Cancer". The training that he and his student, Logan Poole, received in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Henry on culturing mammalian cell lines, has now enabled him to conduct laboratory experimentation on hypotheses formed through bioinformatic analysis of pancreatic cancer microarray data.


What I have been intending to do for some time is to gain expertise in the field of mammalian tissue culture of cancer cells, and to test out some hypotheses that were generated by our investigations on pacreatic cancer microarray datasets. The goal was to do these experiments at UNI, which would give our undergraduates valuable research experience. There were two big obstacles to overcome. The first was that it is very difficult to get funding to do research in an area in which one has no prior experience. The second was that even with funding, it is difficult to get a place in a research laboratory, since tissue culture work is highly sensitive to contamination issues, and PI's are reluctant to take in researchers with little experience in the field for a short summer stint.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the FUTURE program was the only program that was able to solve not one, but both of these issues. I know that Madeline must have used all her persuasive powers to find a place in Dr. Henry's lab for my student Logan and me. As it turned out, the experience was wonderful. Not only did we learn all the intricacies of cell culture, but we also got a lot of "hands on" experience in qPCR and western blotting, two techniques crucial for validation of microarray data.

Apart from these major benefits, there were also many other benefits of the FUTURE program. One of the most important outcomes is that we have now established a collaboration with Dr. Henry, which should lead to more research beyond the summer. I have been at UNI for 8 years, but it is only through the FUTURE program that I was able to establish a meaningful collaboration with faculty members at our fellow regents institution, the University of Iowa. I am also taking with me a lot of very useful information about the graduate programs at UI, which should help me considerably in advising my 20 or so advisees at UNI. This information was obtained primarily through the seminars organized by the FUTURE program, which brought us in contact with the admissions officials of various health-related graduate and clinical programs at the University of Iowa.

Nalin Goonesekere, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has been a wonderful experience. It was a great opportunity to spend time on engaging research outside of my university. The faculty at the University of Iowa help lead you toward your greatest chance of success, both during your summer research and in your academic future.

Logan Poole
Undergraduate Researcher

Support for the 2013 Program

  • CCOM Office of the Dean
  • UI Office of the Provost 
  • Cornell College
  • Drake University
  • Graceland University
  • Morningside College
  • Mount Mercy University
  • University of Northern Iowa