Forest City, Iowa - After spending two months at UI Carver College of Medicine, Waldorf College biology professor Dr. Gary Coombs, and senior Cody Barnes gave their final presentations last week as part of the FUTURE program.
Dr. Coombs was one of the six faculty fellows selected for the program from colleges throughout Iowa. Upon his selection, he discussed the project with his students and chose Barnes to accompany him.
The FUTURE program, which stands for Fostering Undergraduate Talent – Uniting Research and Education, started May 31 and ended this Friday, July 29. Barnes was one of the 174 poster presenters last week. Dr. Coombs spoke about his research on Friday, July 29.
Barnes, of class 2012, majoring in wellness, studied expression of NIAM (Nuclear Interactor of ARF and MDM2) in tumor biopsies from patients with glioma (a type of brain tumor), and helped identify mice with a nonfunctional NIAM gene for studies of NIAM’s role in health and disease. Dr. Coombs, in a separate research project, used mass spectrometry to identify other proteins that interact with NIAM.
Barnes has his future mapped out with plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. While at University of Iowa, he was able to meet the admissions director one-on-one and was encouraged to apply for the physician’s assistant graduate program.
“I think this is a kind of experience you can’t get while studying in a classroom through textbooks,” said Dr. Coombs. “Cody gave the program high marks and would recommend it to others.”
For the biology professor, this fellowship provided funding and equipment to pursue research beyond what he can do at Waldorf College. “It also gave me opportunities to learn more about grants availability,” he said. “I think, there is a likelihood that we may get a publication or two out of this visit, which will reflect positively on Waldorf.”
Now in its third year, the FUTURE program aims to bridge the gap between large research universities in the Iowa area and small liberal arts colleges. This increased interaction helps boost the number of undergraduate students that choose research, medical or graduate school.
During the summer program, visiting faculty from smaller schools served on the panel and answered questions from participants. Admissions officials from the physician assistant program, graduate schools, MD and PhD programs also spoke about what they look for in applicants.
“They bring us here and give us the opportunity to do research. There are weekly seminars and activities,” said Dr. Coombs, who has been working with UI pharmacology faculty member Dawn Quelle. “The hope is to take the information when we are mentoring and counseling at Waldorf to guide students who want to pursue graduate level experiences,” he said.
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