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Students grow cells, study diabetes & more

For many students, doing research in a biomedical lab may sound intimidating, but for UIndy junior biology major Katie Beverley, it’s a dream come true.

“Right now I am growing eukaryotic human cells from human pancreatic ductal cells,” Katie says.

“Simultaneously we are studying pediatric diabetes as well.”

The biomedical research lab is overseen by Assistant Professor of Biology Dean Wiseman and currently has several undergraduate and graduate students participating in research. The program was developed to allow students to gain real-life experience during their time at UIndy in the hope that they will be better prepared for graduate school and the real world.

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

Under the microscope

Biomedical_Lab-4Under Dr. Wiseman’s guidance, students grow and test the cells in a sterile environment. The cells are kept in liquid “media,” allowing them to eat and grow.

The cells are then examined under a microscope, and the changes and progress are recorded. Dr. Wiseman takes special precautions when handling the cells.

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

When asked why pancreatic cancer and pediatric diabetes are the subjects of the research, Dr. Wiseman credits his graduate and postgraduate work. “I was earning my preprofessional master’s degree and met a professor I really liked and thought, ‘Wow, this is really cool!’ And it also was a little bit of luck.”

Dr. Wiseman carried on with his love for research and brought it to UIndy, where he met Katie.

Lab rats

Microscope shot of cell provided by Dean Wiseman.

Microscope shot of cell provided by Dean Wiseman.

Katie and Dr. Wiseman both say that having research experience is important for students.

“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 in getting accepted to a graduate program,” she says. “It’s real-world experience.”

Dr. Wiseman says the experience is worth the hard work. “This experience allows students to gain practical skills that are marketable and teaches them to take personal ownership of their learning and become academically mature,” he says.

Most of the research is done outside of class, and Dr. Wiseman credits the students’ dedication to their willingness to learn. Katie says she plans to do as much research here as she can and hopes to have her findings published.

“I’m excited to have been accepted as research intern to the director of Pediatric Diabetes Research at the IU School of Medicine,” she says.

“Once I do more research this summer and then next year as well, I will be in a good position for graduate school.”

Dr. Wiseman encourages students from different backgrounds to engage in research in the lab. “I’d love to have human biology or exercise science students come over and do research with us,” he says. “At UIndy, students don’t
have to be compartmentalized.”

Hayley Good ’15