Health Sciences

Health Sciences Summer Research Program allows students to focus on experiments while class is out

27 students enrolled in SRP this summer

Student Gracie Berentson creates a catheter for her lab work.
Senior Gracie Berentson attaches a catheter to a piece of mesh she trimmed and rounded out to be used in her research. Thanks to the Summer Research Program Berentson has more time to commit herself to her research without having to worry about class or exams.

Classes are out. Summer is here. But innovative research is still being done in the College of Health Sciences as students can focus on their experiments without studying and exams limiting their time in the lab.  

The Summer Research Program provides students the opportunity to engage in research more intently than they are otherwise able to during the school year, says Dr. Matthew Hearing.  

“Students have extensive coursework throughout the year so it’s more difficult to dive deep into the research,” the assistant professor of biomedical sciences explains. “Because we provide them with a stipend, they are able to work exclusively in the lab and really take ownership of a project.”

During the academic year, students help research projects stay on track and progress, with the help of the entire laboratory team, Hearing says.  The SRP allows students to do more intensive lab work — collect, analyze and present data at the end of summer from their own independent research projects.

Biomedical sciences senior Gracie Berentson says that during the academic year she never quite had the time to understand and appreciate the science fully.

“It’s very different having ownership over my project and being solely responsible for it,” Berentson says. “I enjoy the independence of it and having the confidence that I know what I am doing with my procedures.”

Research is not a foreign concept for junior biomedical sciences major Divyank Sharma. While in high school, he conducted research at the Medical College of Wisconsin and jumped at the opportunity to work in Dr. Behnam Ghasemzadeh’s lab here at Marquette.

Like Berentson, the SRP presented Sharma the opportunity to truly immerse himself in the lab.

“During the year, I wasn’t doing much hands-on experimentation,” Sharma says. “What I did do was train new lab personnel that came through to teach them the proper practices and what the expectations of lab are.”

“Now that I am in the SRP, I am able to do more data collection and analysis while having a more enriched experience.”

Junior Divyank Sharma practices skills in his lab.
Junior Divyank Sharma focuses and practices fundamental skills for his cocaine addiction project that he will soon be implementing on the research he is conducting this summer.

A launchpad to success

Hearing says the SRP can be a gateway for students to enter various research fields or prepare them for other careers, such as clinicians.

Hearing recalls a student — unsure of her career aspirations— who gained clarity after her time in the SRP.

“She immersed herself into the lab, and by the time she graduated she had six authorships on papers, which is unheard of as an undergrad,” Hearing says. “That type of dedication and productivity, I have zero doubt was a big factor into her getting into medical school.”

Sharma says his pitch for students who are interested in joining the SRP is simple: the professional and realistic experience is unmatched.

“You can be excelling in classes, have the best grades, but at the end of the day that is just information in textbooks,” Sharma says. “This research allows you to interact with the community, and — with an end of the semester presentation — it allows you to learn how to communicate in an effective manner to individuals who don’t know the nuances of your research like you do.”

The ability to communicate effectively is a crucial skill for future health scientists.  

“Having those skills can help you no matter what field you go into,” Sharma says. “In the medical field, your patient is not going to know what disease you’re talking about and its complications. You must simplify the diagnosis in an understandable manner.

“Not everyone can do that and skills like that one — which we learn as part of our work in the SRP — are what can set us apart from others in the field.”

For more information on the Summer Research Program, visit the link here.