Student research gets Lansing looks
A U-M student researcher studies how the aerobic capacity of rats affects their mortality and susceptibility for disease.
Another student tracks the actions of Gemcitabine, a chemotherapeutic drug used in pancreatic, non-small cell lung and breast cancer patients.
A third student says she feels excited by new findings and also disappointed by unforeseen errors in procedures during her analysis of the mechanisms of breast and prostate cancer metastasis.
These are among 10 U-M undergraduates who presented their research to state legislators and committee members in Lansing March 22. For the third straight year students participating in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) gave poster presentations about the research they've done with faculty.
UROP creates research partnerships between first- and second-year students and U-M faculty. Since all schools and colleges are active in the program, students can choose a wealth of research topics.
Faculty members nominated students to present their research in Lansing and the honorees were selected based on several factors, including the relevance of their research to the state. "This is really our only UROP on the road event except for some fund-raising alumni events," said Sandra Gregerman, program director.
While the event helped show state legislators the benefits of research to both undergraduate education and the State of Michigan through the training of a talented cadre of future researchers, the experience also gave the students an opportunity to converse with state leaders, understand the role research plays in policy development, and learn firsthand from legislators how their research may relate to current funding decisions at the state level, Gregerman said.
"I think it is important for those outside of the scientific realm to understand exactly what is going on in cancer research," said Christina Krokosky, whose research looked at Gemcitabine.
The UROP experience has taught Krokosky to persevere when the research doesn't produce the anticipated resultsa lesson that goes beyond the laboratory.
"These experiences have also positively enhanced my academic success as well, for I've learned to always move forward and not dwell on the mishaps that have caused minor setbacks in my progress," she said.
UROP began in 1989 with 14 student/faculty partnerships. Today, approximately 900 students and more than 600 faculty researchers are engaged in research collaborations.
"I now know that research is something that I enjoy and feel satisfied and productive doing," said Alyse DeHaan, whose project looks at the epithelial growth factor receptor in prostate cancer and the progression to bone metastasis. "When I make my career goals all of this will surely be factored in."
Matt Armington said UROP will help him in his career path in the medical field. "It also put me in a position to draw on the incredible amount of knowledge and professionalism that the doctors in my lab are able to provide," said Armington.
UROP will hold its spring research symposium at 11 a.m. April 19 in the Michigan League.