OU Biology Students Gain Graduate-level Research Experience


For two Oglethorpe students, a typical day in the lab where they were interning consisted of reading research papers, writing a few grant submissions, and carrying out experiments. But it was not just any lab; it was a part of Mercer University’s College of Pharmacy, one of the top pharmacy colleges in the nation.

Ty and Kristen Biology

During the 2014-2015 academic year, Oglethorpe students Kristen Curry ’16 and Ty Murphy ’16 worked on several graduate-level research projects at Mercer University. Despite being junior-level biology majors, both Ty and Kristen, were able to earn these highly coveted internships, which they learned about through Oglethorpe’s Atlanta Laboratory for Learning (A_LAB) and from Dr. Dan Schadler, an Oglethorpe biology professor and advisor, who is now retired.

The internships were focused in psychopharmacology—the study of the drug effects on mood and behavior, and on the role of brain serotonin systems in anesthesia-induced hypothermia.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed gaining experience with lab techniques, learning to work through problems individually and with a team and gaining insight into the machinations of the scientific field,” said Kristen.

Apart from exploring possible issues that occurred when using anesthesia during surgical procedures, the internship also presented the opportunity to acquire general skills that could be applied to any career.

“Learning soft skills such as time management, project management, literature review, and critical thinking will bolster my professional resume,” Ty recognizes.

The research internship not only offered the students hands-on experience in the industry, it also provided insight on graduate-level coursework and curriculum if they decide to pursue graduate school.

“While performing these tasks, the graduate students in the lab were always ready in case I had any questions about anything that I do not understand completely,” says Ty. “Being the youngest person in the lab, I was taken in as a mentee.”

Ty advises other students interested in internships to pay attention to Oglethorpe’s internships announcements, but more importantly to stay updated with professors.

“These relationships are what will get you places in life,” he says. “Take advantage of this situation and get to know your professors as well as possible. When you do, they will not only teach you about their specialties, but they will teach you life lessons as well.”

After graduating in spring 2016, Kristen plans to attend pharmacy school or graduate school, while Ty will head to medical school, with a preference for a joint MD/PhD program.

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