2020 Participants

2020 Participants

Buena Vista University  |  Dordt University  |  Drake University  |  Grinnell College
Loras College  |  Mount Mercy University  |  University of Dubuque  |  University of Northern Iowa


Buena Vista University

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

Student Research Assistant: John Quail

UI Faculty Collaborator: David Weiss, PhD, and Linda McCarter, PhD, Professors of Microbiology and Immunology

Project: Incorporating Microbial Research Projects and Case Studies into Laboratory Curriculum


Partcipating in the FUTURE program has been instrumental in my development as a teacher and mentor. This summer switched over to a virtual format that allowed us all to con6nue our partcipation and enhance our reach to students across the state despite a pandemic. I found the meetings with the directors or admissions personnel from the different programs extremely valuable because they provided key insight of how to advise students for graduate or professional programs during a difficult 6me with COVID-19. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue a collaboration with the University of Iowa and the FUTURE program.

Brittney Dinkel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology


Dordt University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Fellow: Manuela A. A. Ayee, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry

Student Research Assistants: Alexia Alsum and Brendan Bunker

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

Project: Charcot Marie Tooth Disease - Molecular Insights into the Most Common Inherited Neurological Disorder


This summer fellowship has been a wonderful experience for both myself and my students. Although we were unable to work at the University of Iowa in person, I was impressed by the way you seemingly seamlessly converted the program to a virtual format and enabled us to feel connected despite the distance. I really enjoyed all the Monday seminars and the various topics that were covered. The Zoom one-on-one chat function especially provided an opportunity for further connection with other meeting attendees, and I had some valuable interactions that way. I am looking forward to continuing to nurture these new professional relationships and especially anticipating the day when I can come to the University of Iowa campus in person to meet you all. Thank you again for providing this opportunity to help expand our research experiences beyond our smaller campuses, and offering us a wonderful networking platform.

Manuela A.A. Ayee, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering


The summer of 2020 was a unique experience for everyone as a whole, but I was very fortunate to still be involved in research while working remotely. Before this summer, I was considering pursuing research after college and this program validated those thoughts as I was able to get a better grasp of the world of research. The FUTURE program exposed me to others involved in a wide variety of research and how all these areas have their useful applications. During my investigation of Myelin Protein Zero and Charcot Marie Tooth disease this summer, I was able to delve deep into a topic that I had never heard of before and learn the research process through this. It was amazing to see the different sides of the project coming together and seeing some preliminary results.

Alexia Alsum, Undergraduate Researcher


I appreciated being a part of the University of Iowa FUTURE in Biomedicine program because it offered several opportunities to both learn and collaborate with other skilled researchers. I enjoyed tuning into to all of the various seminars each week and learning about topics that I would have otherwise been oblivious to. Many of the fellows involved in the FUTURE program also provided valuable advice about seeking postgraduate opportunities. As a new graduate student, I learned even more about the vast amount of opportunities to continue my education after college. Even though the learning and working environment was not ideal this summer, I still am very grateful to have been apart of the FUTURE program and collaborate with researchers at the University of Iowa. 

Brendan Bunker, Undergraduate Researcher


Drake University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Senior Fellow: Alisa Drapeaux, DPT, ATC, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences

UI Faculty Collaborator: Jason Wilken, PhD, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science

Project: PAO: Periacetabular Osteotomy: Determining the effectiveness of pre-operative education and DEA


The FUTURE program in Biomedicine has created a strong foundation for professional collaboration in scholarly activity for both myself and Drake students. With the several opportunities that the fellowship offers within the Carver College of Medicine, I feel that it has helped initiate professional, research partnerships for the next several years. In addition, the ability to learn current bench research that several other faculty members in Iowa are conducting, broadened my knowledge base. The FUTURE program is a well-organized, informative, professional fellowship that I would invite both students and colleagues to apply for in the future.

Alisa Drapeaux, DPT, ATC, Assistant Professor in Health Sciences


Grinnell College

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

Student Research Assistant: Jessica Kunzman

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

Project: Biochemical and Single-molecule Investigation of the GFP-tagged RAD51 Recombinase


I would like to thank Dr. Madeline Shea and Ms. Sonya Housholder for giving me the opportunity to participate in the FUTURE in Biomedicine Program. The program has allowed me to establish a new collaboration with my UI host, Dr. Maria Spies, who welcomed me into her laboratory. Through the collaboration, I was able to expand my knowledge in a field that is new to me and learn powerful techniques such as single-molecule FRET microscopy. My student research assistant, Jessica Kunzman, also benefited from the program tremendously. Not only was she able to experience first-hand what it is like to conduct research at a large institution, she also become well informed about various career opportunities through the weekly FUTURE meetings. Jessica and I are looking forward to continue collaborating with Dr. Spies and share what we have learned with students and faculty at Grinnell.

Keisuke Hasegawa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physics


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

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

Project: The Efficacy of Sirtuin Inhibitors in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)


Loras College

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

Student Research Assistant: Brianna Arreguin

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

Project: Modeling Disease Mechanisms of KCNV2 Retinopathy


I am writing to reflect on my experiences in the FUTUREs in Biomedicine Program at the University of Iowa during the Summer of 2020.  While this experience was not the one I expected when I applied, I know that despite the global pandemic, I was able to learn a great deal and create a new collaboration which will benefit UI and Loras College ongoing.  Taking part in FUTUREs allowed me to study a new field of research I would not have otherwise had the time or resources to pursue.  I spent my time diving deep into a rich field of literature and was able to use my own background of structural biology to translate a patient’s genetic diagnosis into an atomic explanation of their disease.  Because of this pursuit, I now have a new bevy of materials to present and teach future students in both my classes and laboratory. 

Additionally, I enjoyed the opportunity to present my own work as well as learn from other faculty around the state about the resources they find most useful in their teaching and research.  I especially enjoyed hearing about the various structural resources that faculty have found within the PDB.  In the future, I would suggest having more of these types of sessions with varied topics on resources for instruction.

Finally, my summer student also found the seminars helpful, especially those focused on medical/graduate school.  While this was perhaps a consequence of the pandemic, she stressed she would like to see more interaction and involvement of the students during the seminars.

Andrew Kehr, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry


This summer was truly an amazing experience. Getting to work with the Baker Lab and the FUTURE program was something that I was proud to be a part of. I felt that while I was in the program I was able to learn a lot from the Baker lab both when it came to learning about research and about grad school. I felt that by working with them I was able to truly see what it is like to go to grad school and what type of commitment it is. I also felt it helped me to learn more about the professors that are at my school and what type of research I want to do for my thesis in the future. The seminars for the FUTURE program I also found extremely fascinating and informative. While some of the time I did not understand the types of research people were doing, it made me realize that I still have a lot to learn and that I am excited to take that journey. I also felt that that while the FUTURE program was online I still got to meet all different types of people from all over the state of Iowa. Doing research in the FUTURE program makes me excited to continue to do research, especially when we will finally be able to do the research in person. I would definitely recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to be a part of the FUTURE program to do it.

Brianna Arreguin, Undergraduate Researcher


Mount Mercy University

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Fellow: Jonathan Humston, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

UI Faculty Collaborator: Ashley Spies, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry, UI Carver College of Medicine, and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics, College of Pharmacy

Project: Minimize Online Cheating for Online Assessments During COVID-19 Pandemic


I would like to thank the FUTURE in Biomedicine program for this opportunity. The summer of 2020 was one unlike any other, and I appreciate the modifications the program made to allow us to still participate – some remotely and some in labs. It was very beneficial to me as an assistant professor of chemistry and an advisor to pre-professional students to become better acquainted with the training programs in the Carver College of Medicine. The recorded virtual meetings will continue to be a great resource into the future. It was nice to connect with fellow scientist-educators around the state, and even have the opportunity to share my new pedagogical research. I also look forward to continued interactions with the University of Iowa and all those who are a part of the FUTURE in Biomedicine program. Thank you!

Jonathan Humston, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry


University of Dubuque

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Visiting Fellow: Kelly Grussendorf, PhD, Associate Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences

Project: Ecological & Molecular Studies of Tick-borne Pathogens in Eastern Iowa


I am so thankful to have participated as a visiting fellow in the FUTURE program. It has motivated and excited me to hopefully participate as a fellow during the next summer. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations as they have helped and inspired me to be a better professor, researcher and mentor for students.

Kelly Grussendorf, PhD, Associate Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences


University of Northern Iowa

FUTURE in BiomedicineSM Visiting Fellow: Aleksandr Poleksic, PhD, Professor of Computer Science

Project: Network Inference in Systems Biology


I was lucky to take part in 2020 FUTURE in Biomedicine program. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing most fellows and students to perform on-site research at UI, the program provided numerous research opportunities for collaboration between UI faculty, fellows and students. I found the research talks on diverse scientific topics very inspiring. The career opportunities in the medical field presented at the weekly meeting were very informative and helpful to undergraduate students. I would like to thank the organizers and participants for making the FUTURE in Biomedicine program a great summer experience.

Aleksandr Poleksic, PhD, Professor of Computer Science