2015 Participants

2015 FUTURE Class

Coe College  |  Cornell College  |  Drake University  |  Graceland University  |  Grinnell College  |  Hawkeye Community College   
Mount Mercy University  |  Waldorf College  |  Affiliate: Kirkwood Community College  |  Affiliate: St. Mary-of-the-Woods College

Coe College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Ugur Akgun, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physics

Student Research Assistant: Collin Wilkinson

UI Faculty Host: Dongxu Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Project: High-Density Glass Scintillator for Proton Beam Imaging


This was my second year in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program. I am an experimental high-energy physicist, and my main research focus is to develop novel glass detectors for various applications such as particle physics, homeland security, and medical applications. My research group has been working on a novel detector design for proton imaging systems for a while. The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program gave me an amazing opportunity to include Dr. Dongxu Wang from Radiation Oncology Department of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, into our project. Our proton imaging detector design requires a high-density, scintillating glass, which is being made at state-of-the-art glass laboratories of the Coe College Physics Department.

In the last two years, through the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program and Coe College’s NSF REU and RUI grants, 11 undergraduate students from Coe College, and a M.S. student from the University of Iowa Physics department, had the opportunity to participate in this research endeavor.

As one team worked on inventing the novel high density scintillating glasses, the other team created a simulation model of a prototype and developed image reconstruction codes. Without Dr. Dongxu Wang’s expertise in radiation oncology we would never have made the image reconstruction part of the project. Currently, we have a candidate glass, and working simulation model, as well an efficient image reconstruction method. We will soon start production runs, which will utilize the University of Iowa High Performance Computing resources, as well as all of the local Linux cluster in the Physics Department of Coe College. We hope to get our first results, write a scientific paper, and most importantly submit an NIH grant proposal this coming year. All of these would not have happened this fast without the support of the FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Program.

I would also like to mention that the FUTURE program helped me to meet faculty from other Liberal Arts College science departments, and learn about their research interests, which might help me to initiate new collaborations.

Finally, I cannot thank enough Prof. Madeline Shea for accommodating everything for my students, and me. Her gracious support helped us to improve our medical imaging knowledge tremendously. I am very excited to continue my collaboration with Dr. Dongxu Wang in years to come.

Ugur Akgun, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has been an amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge in a variety of fields and methods. Coming from a physics background, my knowledge of biology has been minimal and coming to the FUTURE events has truly broadened my horizons. Not only has the program itself been extremely helpful, but also the resources at University of Iowa have been indispensable to my project. I couldn't imagine being able to continue my project without them. In short the FUTURE Program has been an expansive force in many aspects of my academic life.

Collin Wilkinson
Student Researcher

Cornell College

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

Student Research Assistant: Shashanna Moll

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

Project: Functional Zebrafish of Genes Implicated in Epilepsy and Parkinson's Disease


This is the third summer I have spent as a FUTURE Fellow and each experience has surpassed the previous one. The FUTURE program allows faculty from small colleges to become totally immersed in research and to return to the reason we became scientists in the first place: our passion for and desire to understand the natural world. Although we may love teaching, faculty from small institutions often become isolated from the broader scientific community, and the FUTURE program permits reengagement with that community, allowing us to invigorate not only ourselves, but our teaching as well. 

Through my involvement with the FUTURE program I now have a zebrafish facility at my college that is used in laboratories associated with courses and in student-designed research projects. However, the biggest reasons I have returned for the third time are personal. I have had the opportunity to work with graduate students who remind me of that passion for science.  I have had engaging discussions with Rob Cornell about ideas and new avenues of research. I have had a wonderful time working with my own student who has reminded me of the frustrations and joys inherent in “doing science.” Altogether, a very rewarding experience.  

Barbara Christie-Pope, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

Participating in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program gave me the opportunity to work firsthand in a research environment. I was able to interact with graduate students, lab technicians and my principal investigator, which gave me a sense of what graduate school would be like.

I have learned a tremendous amount throughout the last nine weeks, not only in the specific area of my research but also overall research methods. I know this will benefit me greatly as I continue my education in the sciences and work in other labs. I really enjoyed the weekly FUTURE meetings, which gave me the chance to become familiar with the research my fellow participants were involved in.  Overall, I am extremely grateful to have taken part in this program and I am thrilled with the amount of knowledge I have gained.

Shashanna Moll
Student Researcher

Cornell College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Visiting Fellow: Melinda Green, PhD, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Psychology and Ringer Distinguished Professor

Research Area: The biological, psychological, and sociocultural correlates of body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptomatology.


The FUTURE program helped me to become much more knowledgeable about the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Iowa. I am definitely in a better position to recommend this program to my top students. 

The FUTURE program helped me to network with other scientist-educators around the state of Iowa. This has been beneficial to my professional development. I look forward to the continued opportunities for collaboration it will provide in the future.

Thanks again for the great opportunity!

Melinda Green, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

Drake University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Adina Kilpatrick, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physics  

UI Faculty Host: Madeline Shea, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry

Project: Calcium-Binding Regulatory Proteins - Structures and Energetics


I very much appreciate the opportunity to return to Madeline Shea’s lab as a FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Senior Fellow. I participated in the program for a third year in a row, and I was able to make significant progress on two projects related to structural studies of calcium-binding regulatory proteins.

In one project, I continued my collaboration with Professor Shea on the interaction between calmodulin and the ryanodine receptor, two proteins involved in muscle contraction. To complement the thermodynamics analysis undertaken over the last two summers, we used NMR spectroscopy to investigate the molecular details of the complex between the two biomolecules and obtain residue-specific information of the binding interface. We were also able to isotopically label a co-expressed calmodulin-ryanodine receptor peptide complex, which will enable us to probe for the first time the conformational dynamics of the ryanodine receptor calmodulin-binding domain. 

In a second project that is part of a collaboration with fellow Drake University faculty, I used NMR spectroscopy to investigate the structure of the C-terminal domain of TCB2, a putative calcium sensor from the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila. I acquired three-dimensional NMR experiments and determined the sequential assignment of backbone and side-chain resonances of the domain, both in the absence and the presence of calcium. Structure determination using distance and dihedral angle constraints is ongoing for calcium-free TCB2, and will be initiated in the near future for the calcium-bound protein. Comparison of the solution structures of the domain at low versus high calcium levels will enable us to probe its calcium binding properties and gain insights into the molecular basis of calcium sensing in Tetrahymena.

Returning to the FUTURE program this year has enabled me to focus again exclusively on research for nine weeks, in a way that is sometimes difficult at a primarily undergraduate institution. It also allowed me to use the state-of-art facilities and instrumentation in the Carver College of Medicine, including the CCOM Protein Crystallography Core and the CCOM High Field NMR Core. I have received invaluable help with the NMR spectroscopy projects, and increased my expertise in solving protein structures by NMR.

Having access to the highly specialized knowledge and instrumentation available at the University of Iowa proved essential for making significant progress in my structural work. I am very grateful for the support and help of my collaborator, Madeline Shea, and all the members of her lab. The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program allowed me to do cutting-edge biophysical research for the past three years, and I look forward to continued collaborations.

Adina Kilpatrick, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

Drake University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Visiting Fellow: Jerry Honts, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology

Student Research Assistant: Alexandra Howland-Lopez 

UI Faculty Host: Madeline Shea, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry

Research Area: The structure, function, and evolution of cytoskeletal proteins in eukaryotes.


The FUTURE program provided the impetus for expanding my research program at a critical juncture. Through work initiated in the first summer of the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program in 2009, I have been able to make progress toward realizing many long-term research objectives, and in some cases, gone much further than I would have imagined. Assistance from University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine faculty and facilities have been critical to my success to date, and will be in the future. On this basis, I have recommended the FUTURE program to our faculty at Drake, and to date we have had five participants.

In addition to fostering collaborations between faculty and Iowa's private colleges and the University of Iowa, the program has provided high-impact summer undergraduate research experiences that have enabled our students to compete effectively in gaining admission to post-baccalaureate programs in the life sciences.

I have participated as a Senior Fellow over the last six years because I strongly support the mission of the FUTURE program. Returning FUTURE faculty provide inspiration for new participants, since they can see progress made through participation in the program over the seven years of its existence.

Jerry Honts, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

My first semester of research at Drake University was amazing; I was doing things in the lab that I never considered would be available to me without a degree so I was exhilarated  when Dr. Honts said there was an opportunity for me to continue our research at the University of Iowa during the summer and learn some new techniques. My first week at the University of Iowa completely blew my mind. I was not expecting the labs to be so big and efficient and collaborative; but mostly I was so surprised to see how much research was being done, both within and outside the FUTURE program.

Academic research was never mentioned in my family growing up so I didn't really know that it was even an option until I began applying to college and started to see it mentioned in degree program profiles.

The FUTURE program as allowed me to encounter different research projects from the surrounding schools, specific research projects within my host lab, diverse topics that are in an offered lecture series and such a vast amount of different types of research that now I cannot even fathom how I didn't realize that this was out there before. I no longer see publications and papers as obscure scientists in secret labs secluded from the world, but rather as colleagues and professors and actual people who are trying to solve a puzzle.

The resources at the University of Iowa, are certainly phenomenal but what I found most humbling were the people who talked to each other about the their projects and shared ideas with one another, asking questions and taking suggestions. It felt like I was part of a real scientific community.

This summer has opened my eyes to so many possibilities and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the program and I highly recommend anyone with the same opportunity to take it. Ten out of ten would do again. 

Thank you, Dr. Shea and Sonya, for putting this together and for all your help throughout the process!

Alexandra Howland-Lopez
Student Researcher

Drake University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Visiting Fellow: Abebe Mengesha, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics

Student Research Assistant: Dillon Krotz

Research Area: Pharmaceutical technology and its applications to drug development and administration.


The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has been very helpful to create collaborations, and use the core research facilities in the Carver College of Medicine. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is one of the most powerful and versatile instruments used in research, development and manufacturing of drug delivery systems. The SEM has the ability to image a wide variety of sample types and sizes, often with minimal sample preparation, and is capable of generating multiple analysis signals, providing high-resolution information about the composition of the samples. The opportunity to use this powerful technique has greatly enhanced the quality of our research project. Otherwise, it would be difficult to carry out those evaluations. I am very grateful for the support and help of Dr. Randy Nessler and Dr. Jianqiang Shao at the Central Microscopy Research Facilities.

In addition, I appreciated the many discussions with other Fellows, participating in the weekly FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ meetings and workshops, as well as interacting with peers and students from other undergraduate institutions in Iowa.

Abebe Mengesha, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

Participating in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program gave me the chance to spend a lot more quality time with my mentor Dr. Mengesha. I was able to develop much better research habits and greater love for research in general.

It certainly got me a more personal connection with the University of Iowa. I am planning on applying to attend medical school there. I was able to spend more quality time investing into my research and the incentive to do it. This experience allowed me to use research technology that I would not normally have the privilege of using. I got to travel to a different university and share my research with other students and professors from many different colleges around the state of Iowa, and also hear about their unique and interesting work.

I would most definitely recommend the FUTURE program at the University of Iowa to my fellow students, peers and colleagues at Drake University.

Dillon Krotz
Student Researcher

Drake University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Visiting Fellow: Heidi Sleister, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology

Research Area: Host-viral interactions and chromosome transmission.


I was excited to participate in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program after hearing about my colleagues’ fantastic experiences as Faculty Fellows. I am thankful to Madeline Shea for piloting the Visiting Fellows program for faculty like me who cannot commit to the full-time summer research program.

Participation in several of the weekly meetings as a Visiting Fellow will help me as a researcher and advisor. For example, while touring the IIHG Genomics Core Facility, I discovered equipment, services, and expertise available at Iowa that I can use in my research projects at Drake. I also learned more about the graduate and professional programs at the University of Iowa. This is information I can share with my undergraduate advisees. I enjoyed connecting with faculty from the University of Iowa and primarily undergraduate institutions in Iowa and sharing information about our academic and research programs. I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the FUTURE program as a Visiting Fellow and encourage others to participate.  

Heidi Sleister, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

Graceland University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Visiting Fellow: Mary Shawgo, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology  

UI Faculty Host: John Kirby, PhD, Professor of Microbiology 

 Research Area:  Protection mechanism of Bacillus subtilis from Myxococcus xanthus


The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has meant a lot to me, to my students, and to Graceland University. This program has given me the opportunity to learn new laboratory techniques from the best scientists in these fields, along with strengthening my scientific knowledge in the classes that I teach. The personal relationships are invaluable and inspiring.

This summer of 2015 was my third visit to the Kirby Lab in the Department of Microbiology, and I always look forward to the friendship, encouragement, and opportunities this program and lab give me. Not only does the opportunity strengthen my connection and knowledge, it is a rejuvenating experience. I have enjoyed learning new scientific knowledge and sharing it with others.

The program has allowed me to gain information that can't be acquired by reading a journal article. Rather, it is the knowledge obtained from a personal interaction - attending a seminar, listening to colleague presenting and troubleshooting data, or talking over coffee.

At a small university like Graceland, where knowledge rarely overlaps among faculty, these discussions do not happen. Over these few years, my participation in the FUTURE program has grown. The first summer I brought back projects for my students to work on at Graceland. I have had 9 different students over the past 2 years work on these projects and this coming year I have 2 students who will continue from last year. I also hope to have a couple of new students start working on the project. 

The Kirby Lab and I are working on a manuscript from our collaborations and hope to write a small grant application together in the future. I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Mary Shawgo, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

Grinnell College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Ruth Ann Henriksen Fellow: Heriberto Hernandez, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Student Research Assistants: Julia Rumley and Alitza Shutt

UI Faculty Host: Michael Schnieders, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Biochemistry

Project: The Role of Thermodynamics in the Formulation of Pharmaceuticals


I am really grateful for this opportunity that Dr. Madeline Shea and the FUTURE program have granted me and my students. We were able to work with a great person and scientist, Assistant Professor Mike Schnieders. I definitely will recommend this program to my colleagues and friends. Being part of this program has had many advantages. I was able to use and have access to scientific computational resources that I do not have at my current college. It also gave my students a sense of what it is like to be at a large research institution. I definitely will come back as a Senior Faculty Fellow.

Heriberto Hernandez, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Ruth Ann Henriksen Fellow

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program allowed us to broaden our understanding of scientific research. By taking advantage of the excellent research facilities offered by the University of Iowa and collaborating with professors, undergraduate students, and graduate students in different fields, we became very familiar with the processes essential in analyzing data. Overall, the program enabled us to develop techniques taught in our undergraduate courses and apply them in new environments. We enjoyed a wonderfully enriching experience!

Julia Rumley
Student Researcher

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program helped me in the pursuit of my own future. With the support of this program, I feel that I have assured myself that I am truly passionate in science given the opportunity to work hands-on in a lab. It has been a blessing to meet new people through the connections the FUTURE program fosters. I would recommend any of my friends to the program who are interested in research and want to see what it's all about."

Thank you so much everything.

Alitza Shutt
Student Researcher

Hawkeye Community College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: D. Randy Mercer, PhD, Instructor of Natural Sciences

Student Research Assistant: John Reed, NSF REU in Microbiology

UI Faculty Host: Wendy Maury, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, and David Weiss, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology

Project: Characterization of Wohlbachia in Endemic Mosquito Species in Iowa


This was my third opportunity to participate in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program. Each summer has been a bit different and I have learned and advanced my scientific understanding with each opportunity. The project I was involved with is locating and characterizing Wolbachia pipientis in Iowa mosquitoes. This obligate endoparasitic bacterium is widespread among terrestrial arthropods and may play a significant role in the reproductive success, competitive capabilities or vector potential of infected hosts. After having spent the first two FUTURE summers researching my “favorite treehole mosquito” from my dissertation research in California, I decided that my student, John Reed, and I should serve more local interests by investigating Iowa mosquitoes. 

Community college faculty generally do not have opportunity for research; this is even more true for community college students. Dr. Wendy Maury and her graduate students graciously provided research space, materials, advice and encouragement during our research. Dr. Madeline Shea and Ms. Sonya Housholder provided exceptional liaison with the FUTURE Program. And through the FUTURE Program, we gained access to essential software capabilities and sequencing that were integral to our success. 

I hope to continue my collaboration with the Maury lab and would be grateful for future opportunities in affiliation with the FUTURE Program. For faculty interested in taking their research to a new level, please consider this Program.

D. Randy Mercer, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

I have just completed my first semester at Hawkeye Community College. The FUTURE program has allowed me to be involved with many new projects and people. Thus, it has given me a greater outlook on scientific studies in general. I learned about the work going on in many laboratories at our weekly meetings. With their interesting and diverse topics, it was a pleasure to come and be a part of it as well.

John Reed
Student Researcher

Mount Mercy University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Ryan Bezy, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology

Student Research Assistant: Monica Steffen

UI Faculty Host: David Weiss, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology

Project: Studies of Bacterial Cell Division


I have had the pleasure of participating as a Faculty Fellow in the FUTURE of Biomedicine℠ program at the University of Iowa for the past three years. This is an outstanding program that allows faculty from schools across Iowa to expand their research, build collaborations, get undergraduate students valuable research experience, and interact with admissions staff from professional programs. This program has been particular valuable to me in helping to carry out a robust research program that integrates undergraduate students from Mount Mercy in an immersive project that has not failed to generate results every summer, as well as establish a productive collaboration between Dr. David Weiss  (Microbiology) and me that has persisted now over multiple years.

This program has also allowed me to interact with peers in my field to help improve my courses at Mount Mercy through talks about teaching practices, classroom activities, and new laboratory exercises. Summers participating in the FUTURE program have gone by fast - an exciting experience. I would strongly urge other faculty in Iowa to take advantage of the FUTURE program.

As I have participated in this program, I have also seen it grow and change, from the inclusion of Senior Fellows who have come back to participate in this experience two or more times and the expansion of the program to include graduate students and post-docs from the University of Iowa getting teaching experience at some of the institutions that are home to the FUTURE Fellows. I look forward to seeing how this program will continue to evolve over time. 

Ryan Bezy, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

This summer has been a wonderful opportunity for me to experience lab work in a whole new way. Working on a project, and being able to collaborate with other members of the lab has been an insightful experience into how a real lab works.

Being able to do hands-on work was probably the best part this summer; I was the one handling the pipette and doing the spot assays, and that was a great experience. I learned a lot about how scientists approach different problems, and how resilient and patient they are when an experiment doesn’t turn out the first time. Thanks to the FUTURE program I have had these opportunities, and I am very grateful for everyone involved in making this program available. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who is interested in research.

I would like to thank Dr. Bezy, Dr. Weiss, Dr. Eric Ransom, and Dr. Atsushi Yahashiri for helping me with procedures, and for answering questions that I have had. Thank you for making this opportunity available to me.

Monica Steffen
Student Researcher

Mount Mercy University

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Joseph Nguyen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Student Research Assistant: Amanda Dolley

UI Facuty Host: Keith Jarosinski, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Microbiology

Project: Characterizing Dual Infections of Natural Hosts with Microscopy 


Participating in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program as a Senior Fellow has been yet another tremendous experience. Firstly, the experience for my undergraduate student is invaluable. The undergraduate students learn a lot about the various professional and graduate programs at the University of Iowa. They also see the wealth of resources available at Iowa, including but not limited to the research facilities, the groundbreaking research taking place, and the tremendous researchers and educators available.

The FUTURE program has allowed me to perform research that cannot solely be accomplished at Mount Mercy University. The collaboration with Professor Keith Jarosinski has been great because it allows me to utilize my chemical experience in a new field for me. Besides working on a novel area of research, the collaborative research project gives my undergraduate students an opportunity to experience research in electron microscopy, which is extremely rare for most undergraduate students. The experience provides an excellent experience with research because they understand how difficult it is to obtain the images they see in their textbooks.

As an educator and pre-professional adviser at a small institution, the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program helps me to stay up-to-date with important information regarding the admissions process for the professional and graduate programs. This information is essential for me because it allows me to give my students the best information and advice possible.

I highly recommend the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ for all professors in primarily undergraduate institutions because it provides invaluable opportunities, collaborations, resources, and access to tremendous research facilities. I look forward to my continued participation in the future!

Joseph Nguyen, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

The experience I have gained within the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program has been one-of-a-kind. It has opened my eyes to the importance of collaboration between researchers and various departments as a way to improve techniques and provide valuable insight for different perspectives on a project. I appreciated the many seminars to showcase the different programs offered at University of Iowa and the priceless time from guests to talk about their programs.

The intimate setting of dinner, which included the FUTURE of Biomedicine℠ Program participants, MD/PhD students, Dean Schwinn, and Associate Dean Sherree Wilson, allowed priceless advice and insight. It provided a deeper conversation and informal setting to ask personalized questions.

It would be wise for many looking to further their education by continuing in a graduate program (PhD or Medicine) at the University of Iowa to invest time in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program as confirmation regarding the program they would like to join. This has given me to opportunity to confirm my passion and future goal in medicine.

Thank you again for the opportunity of being part of this program.

Amanda Dolley
Student Researcher

Waldorf College

FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow: Gary Coombs, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology

Student Research Assistant: Maria Valdes 

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

Project: The Role of Lamins in Regulating Muscle Function and Metabolism


I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to return and participate in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program a second time. Both this year’s experience, and my initial experience in 2011 have helped me to establish connections to UI faculty who have been very supportive of my efforts to conduct research at Waldorf College and provide my students with more meaningful lab experiences and insights into careers in the biomedical sciences. Madeline Shea went the extra mile this year to help me find funding for a student stipend so that I could bring a student along. The experience has been very enlightening for my student, Maria Valdes, and fortunately, has increased, rather than decreased her enthusiasm for a career in genetic research.

Our research project this summer has been very exciting. We have had the opportunity to use Drosophila as an animal model of muscular dystrophy, and have gained insights into contributing factors at the cell and molecular level that may eventually provide avenues of pharmacological research to pursue. We are hoping to submit our work later this year for publication.

I am also enthusiastic about working with Drosophila because I have been incorporating Drosophila studies into my genetics lab at Waldorf for the past 2 years, but I have very little prior experience with this animal model. The insights I’ve gained this summer will allow me to make some big changes in how I conduct these lab activities, and hopefully will allow my students to pursue novel questions in lab rather than just learning technical skills.

I am definitely hoping to come back and participate again, and planning to stay involved in the Wallrath lab’s muscular dystrophy work as it moves forward.

Gary Coombs, PhD
FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Fellow

The FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has been a wonderful experience. Getting a chance to participate in this amazing program was really unexpected, because I just finished my first year of college and I heard that internships were usually for juniors or even sophomores. So when my professor gave me the great news I was super excited but nervous at the same time. I believe Dr. Coombs invited me to do this research with him because, as my advisor, he knows I was interested in this field. After this summer I realized that research is something I would like to do full time, and that here at University of Iowa there are great opportunities to continue my education and obtain a Ph.D. This program also taught me a lot, I think that my genetics and biochemistry classes are going to be way easier now. I am really happy with the experiences I had and the people I met this summer. I would like to thank the University of Iowa, my lab host Lori L. Wallrath and all the staff that make this program happen.

Maria Valdes
Student Researcher

FUTURE Student Affiliates

Kirkwood Community College, LSAMP/IINSPIRE Program

Student Research Assistant: Adam Page

UI Facuty Host: E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, John B Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research and Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center

Project: Diabetes Research


The experience that I’ve had over the summer as a FUTURE Student Affiliate has been wonderful. Not having a professor from my home institution with me in the laboratory has not been an issue because of how welcome the FUTURE program and my lab has made me feel. Networking with people in the field that I want to go into has given me many chances over the summer to ask questions and find out more about the research and medical area. It’s given me even more motivation to focus in school so my knowledge can continue to be applied to a lab setting. I’ve found something that I truly enjoy doing and it has left me eager for my next research opportunity.

Coming from a community college, the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program has helped me get a chance to experience a university atmosphere before transferring to one. Also offering weekly seminars and workshops has helped build skills and gain knowledge for either graduate school or professional school. Having this information so early in my pathway through school has provided an upper hand with guidance and reassurance of my career goals and passion for science. 
I would definitely recommend the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program to other students looking for an amazing opportunity in research or to find out about other career opportunities with science.

Adam Page
FUTURE in Biomedicine
 Student Affiliate

St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Theresa L. Gioannini Women-in-Science Fellow

Student Research Assistant: Dulce Chavez

UI Faculty Host: Jerrold Weiss, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology

Project: Inflammation Research


First and foremost, I want to thank you Madeline Shea for including me in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ Program. Coming to the University of Iowa alone as the first Theresa L. Gioannini Women-in-Science Fellow was a great experience. It exposed me to a level of science that I would have otherwise not witnessed in my undergraduate career. Everyone I worked with here was more than willing to be part of my development as a scientist in this short time.

This is definitely a program that helps undergraduates get a grasp for real research. It is really set up for the student to gain great hands on experience. I do however, think that because a lot of the projects went into so much depth that it would be a great benefit if this program was a couple of weeks longer. Being able to do research at a high level at an institution like the University of Iowa will definitely boost my resume. It was really a great experience!

Dulce Chavez
FUTURE in Biomedicine
 Student Affiliate

Support for the 2015 Program

  •   CCOM Office of the Dean
  •   CCOM Biochemistry - Ruth Ann Henriksen Fund
  •   Coe College
  •   Cornell College
  •   Drake University
  •   Graceland University
  •   Grinnell College
  •   Hawkeye Community Coll.
  •   Mount Mercy University
  •   Waldorf College