Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in Biology

Uploaded by KState on 20.08.2012

bjbj Kale Lothamer>> It s really been a life-changer for me and it s really kind of molded my path
into a different one ever since I came here. I came here with a completely different mindset
and then I got involved with the research and got my eyes opened to all these different
careers. Ari Jumpponen>> URM stands fro Undergraduate Research Mentoring program and the whole idea
behind that is we recruit local students, K-State students from biology, we also have
some from plant pathology and entomology. The whole goal is that we actually try to
make these students the best possible competitors for future professional careers. Kale Lothamer>>
I applied last April for the first year I did it and then just recently got submitted
to a second year in the program. Ari Jumpponen>> Primarily, we d like our students to work
40 hours on a research project during the week during the summer time and once we get
to the school year, they work 20 hours per week the mentor s lab and those projects the
students do are completely between the mentor and student to pick and most of our students
get to kind of design their own experiments. Kale Lothamer>> It was really my project.
I really had a lot of ownership. They really made me feel responsible for it, let me take
the rope at times and then correct me if I was wrong. All I really knew is that I would
be working with fungi. There s a lot of questions whether the fungi in these urban environments
are adapting or changing and what s really happening with them. There s a lot of open
areas with fungal research to try and go into so we wanted to look at a question dealing
with urban ecology looking at the differences of fungal communities on tree hosts being
a native tree host or a non-native tree host. I did a lot of field work, taking samples
at campus and taking samples at parks around town. Now I m doing a lot more of the molecular
stuff with the microscope. I actually got to sort and look at individual root tips to
search for the fungi and collect them to extract the DNA and now here pretty soon I ll get
my results back and actually start the writing process. I ll actually be writing up the data
and trying to produce a manuscript to be published in a journal. Ari Jumpponen>> So although
we say that we actually give you hands on lab experience, I think it s more of a comprehensive
training experience in terms of, your science reading improves and your writing ends up
improving. The goal would be that all URM students would actually present themselves
in a national meeting. Kale Lothamer>> Really every lab is like a family. There s a bunch
of students working. Everyone helps each other out and you really build relationships that
will last a lifetime. I think that is something a lot of college students miss out on just
going to classes where they maybe meet their professor once or twice versus having a daily
interaction with someone like this as a daily mentor. You really have a lot of people that
care about you and want to see you learn and progress and everything you do is so beneficial
for potentially graduate school or even a career working in any type of research lab.
I will never regret this decision and I m so glad I decided to apply because I almost
didn t. It was just too intimidating that I could get turned down. It s really been
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