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For some students, summer research projects represent an important step toward their career goal of becoming researchers. For others, they provide valuable insight into their futures as practitioners of evidence-based medicine.

More than 30 students, representing nearly every college at Western University of Health Sciences, presented their projects at the ninth annual Student Technology and Research Symposium (STRS) on July 26, 2016. WesternU Vice President for Research and Biotechnology Steven Henriksen, PhD, said sponsoring students’ summer research projects and organizing STRS is one of his favorite jobs.

“Research is such an important part of the educational experience for students of all professions,” he said. “It provides them the unique opportunity to find out what research means for their own professional education. It also enhances their opportunities for post-graduate success and competition. We have a long history of students who have continued their research after leaving WesternU.”

Click here for a list of students, their research projects and their faculty mentors: http://www.westernu.edu/bin/public-affairs/presentationschedule-stars-7-26-2016.pdf

Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences student Derek Kettle, MSBS ’17, presented “Identifying Cystosolic Components required for misfolded proinsulin ER-associated degradation.” His adviser was GCBS Assistant Professor Pen-Jen Lin, PhD. Kettle switched from computer science to biotechnology as an undergraduate at Utah Valley University.

“I had done a scientific paper for one of my classes on biotechnology, which has always been interesting to me,” Kettle said. “I’ve always had a love for genetics, being the only redhead in my family.”

He is interested in genetic testing and research as a career.

“It’s all about finding something new, something you haven’t expected before, and what it could mean,” Kettle said.

Second-year College of Pharmacy (COP) student Allison Lee, PharmD ’19, said she was nervous during her presentation, but enjoyed the experience.

“I felt it was good practice,” she said. “The people in the audience are more understanding because you are a student.”

Her summer research, “Prophylactic Therapies for the Prevention of Everolimus-Induced Oral Mucositis,” conducted with COP Assistant Professor Maria Lambros, BS, MS, PhD, was worthwhile, she said.

“I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have learned in class that I definitely will be able to use later on in my career – research methods, how to read articles, statistical analysis,” Lee said. “It definitely gave me another option as to what I want to do as a career.”

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific student Etuajie Oiyemhonlan, MSMS ’15, DO ’19, researched the “Effects of beta-blockers on UV-induced skin DNA damage” with COP Associate Professor Ying Huang, PhD, MD, and her research assistant, Kevin Huang.

“I definitely think what makes WesternU unique is that there is a lot of cross-collaboration,” Oiyemhonlan said. “I got a feel for how the pharmacy department runs and how pharmacy students’ curriculum ties into research.”

She has a newfound respect for researchers, Oiyemhonlan said.

“I think research adds to your character. Perfecting techniques comes with experience,” she said. “You really have to be detail-oriented. It helps you learn how to be meticulous and to see the big picture.”