Students gain skills in UIndy’s biomedical lab

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For many students, doing research in a biomedical lab may sound monotonous. But for junior biology major Katie Beverley, it is a dream come true.

“Right now, I am growing eukaryotic human cells from human pancreatic ductal cells,” she said, “and simultaneously we are studying pediatric diabetes as well.”

The biomedical research lab is located in the basement of Lilly Science Hall and overseen by Assistant Professor of Biology Dean Wiseman. The program has four undergraduate and a few graduate students participating. The program was developed to allow students to gain real-life experience during their time at school in the hopes that they will be better prepared for graduate school and the real world.

“This program allows for the students to gain the basic skills in research that they will need in the professional world,” Wiseman said.

Under Wiseman’s guidance, students grow and test the cells in a sterile environment. The cells are kept in a liquid called “media” that allows them to eat and grow.  The cells are then examined under a microscope,  and the changes and progress are recorded. Wiseman takes special precautions when handling the cells.

“I spend a lot of my time at the biological cabinet, which has air blowers that create an air barrier, which prevents the yeast and bacteria on our skin from getting onto the cells,” Wiseman said.

Wiseman credits his graduate and post-graduate work as the reason why pancreatic cancer and pediatric diabetes is the subject of the research.

“I was earning my pre-professional masters degree and met a professor that I really liked and thought ‘Wow, this is really cool,’” Wiseman said. “And it also was a little bit of luck.”

Wiseman carried on with his love for research and brought it to the University of Indianapolis. It was at UIndy that he met Beverley.

“I had some lab experience over the summer with Dr. Debbie Thurmond at the IU School of Medicine, and coincidentally,  Dr. Wiseman also has experience at the IU School of Medicine, so I feel that it just worked out,” Beverley said.

Experience is something that both Beverley and Wiseman stress as important for students to have.

“Working in the lab and being able to do the research that I am doing will help put me one step ahead of my peers when looking for a graduate program,” Beverley said. “It is real-world experience while at school.”

Wiseman also said the experience is worth the hard work.

“This experience allows students to gain practical skills that are marketable, as well as teaches students to take personal ownership of their learning and become academically mature,” Wiseman said.

Most of the research is done outside of class time, and Wiseman attributes the dedication to the students’ willingness to learn.

Beverley said that she plans to do as much research here as she can and hopefully have her findings published.

“My plan is to find a research fellowship over the summer and gain some more experience,” Beverley said. “If I can do more research this summer, and then next year as well, I will be in a good position for graduate school.”

Wiseman encourages students from different backgrounds to engage in research in the lab.

“I would love to have human biology or exercise science students come over and do research with us,”  Wiseman said. “Here at UIndy, students don’t have to be compartmentalized. And if there are students that want to do research, it doesn’t have to be a self-taught experience.”

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