The "Real World" is More than MTV — Try Hands-On Learning
Every day hundreds of people make the decision to go to college and spend their time doing homework, studying for tests and working toward that ever-distant day of graduation and entrance into the "real" world.
Edgar Lee, Chris Larson and Ben Jacobs, however, are three Utah State University students who received the opportunity to experience the "real" world before graduation day. Lee, Larson and Jacobs all received fellowships from the American Heart Association to conduct research during the summer of 2003.
Daryll DeWald, an associate professor in the biology department at Utah State, said undergraduate research gives students the opportunity to be directly mentored by faculty members, who can teach from their broad experience, while receiving hands-on learning.
"Undergraduate research is probably the most effective means of education for students in the sciences because it involves assimilating complex information, problem solving and meeting technical challenges," said DeWald. "This is one of the reasons our graduates do so well after leaving Utah State."
During the fellowship application process the students had to submit essays, transcripts and letters of recommendation. Those selected were then given a list of 40 possible labs involved in the student research program, including Utah State, Stanford, Berkeley and the University of California San Francisco.
Lee, a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, comes from a long line of family members who have received their undergraduate degrees from Utah State. He is a senior in biology and worked on his fellowship at Utah State with DeWald. Lee’s research focused mainly on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their involvement in remodeling the extracellular matrix of the heart.
Larson, who chose to come to Utah State because his program was very well established with many recognized scientists among the faculty, is now a senior in biology. He, along with Lee, completed his fellowship at Utah State.
"It was truly a pleasure and great opportunity to be able to do research under Dr. DeWald," said Larson. "He is a phenomenal researcher and has many great talents and copious amounts of knowledge regarding research and the areas of our investigation."
Lee and Larson worked together on research which could have major bearing on forms of treatment for heart disease, as well as the potential to help develop tests to anticipate cardiovascular diseases.
Jacobs, also a senior in biology, originally from Pason, Utah, completed his fellowship at Stanford University in hopes of attending medical school there in the near future. He worked with Dr. Stanley Rockson, associate professor and director of consultative cardiology at Stanford, in the Faulk Cardiovascular Research Center.
Jacobs' research was focused on therapeutic treatments for Lymphoedema, or swelling that result from fluid accumulation due to surgery, radiation or the presence of a tumor in the lymph node area.
"I had a great experience at Stanford," Jacobs said. "But, I think it could have been just as good of an experience here at Utah State, this university is not lacking by any means and Dr. DeWald is a great teacher."
Lee originally came to Utah State because of the opportunities available as an undergraduate. However, he said he greatly enjoyed the fellowship experience because it gave him a greater idea of what graduate school might be like, because he had to learn the information and know it well enough to design the experiments.
"Research provides a priceless capstone to university education and gives students the experience to be successful upon entering graduate school or the workforce," according to Joyce Kinkead, vice provost for undergraduate studies of research.
"Utah State takes pride in the fact that students learn science by doing science, learn art by producing art, and learn scholarship by writing," said Kinkead. "The application of knowledge is a hallmark of a land-grant university."
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