Students travel from across the nation for BioMaP REU summer program

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Biomap poster session

Twelve students from across the nation and three from Mexico spent their summer with the Biological Materials and Processes (BioMaP) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Iowa State University. BioMaP consists of a variety of projects with topics ranging from nanovaccines, to drug and gene delivery, to clinical trials with an artificial pancreas.

Through research and activities, the goal of the program is to provide students with a graduate school experience and create a desire for lifelong learning. These objectives seem to have been successfully relayed to BioMaP’s students.

“I am very impressed with BioMaP,” says Leeanna Hyacinth, biomedical engineering student at Columbia University. “I have done several programs in the past, but this has a little bit of everything and is my favorite experience so far. I appreciate talking to my mentor about graduate school and the feedback he has provided.”

BioMaP partners with Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Monterrey Tec) in Mexico, where each summer undergraduates from Monterrey’s campus are selected to participate in research at Iowa State. This provides ISU a special opportunity to recruit international students, as well as partner with a university abroad.

Hernán Delgado, chemical engineering student from Monterrey, came to Iowa State for an international experience and to get a better feel for graduate school. His summer research investigated the effect vaccine particle sizes—ranging from nano to microscale—have on how they are distributed through the body.

“I have previous lab experience, but mainly with chemistry, physics and engineering,” says Delgado. “Because this is my first time working with biological materials, I made some mistakes in the beginning, but this is a great experience and has been one of my best summers.”

In addition to international students like Delgado, BioMaP also recruits students from nearby community colleges.

“We have started reaching out to students who already intend to transfer to Iowa State and think BioMaP could be a great way for them to get to know campus, research programs, and faculty before they become students here,” says Monica Lamm, program director and associate professor of chemical and biological engineering.

biomap2Students who participated in this summer’s BioMaP REU program were Julia Blum from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, John Cochrane from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Hernan Delgado from Monterrey Tec (Mexico), Daniel Ducharme from ISU, Samantha Evans from University of California-San Diego, Hugo Garcia from North Carolina State University, Leeana Hyacinth from Columbia University, Joseph Kopacz from Scott Community College (Davenport, Iowa), Martin Matulyauskas from University of Illinois at Chicago, Katie Miller from Clemson University, Hannah Reese from North Carolina State University, Daniel Santos Gonzalez from Monterrey Tec, Miquel Suastegui from Monterrey Tec, Julia Tumbic from Syracuse University and Nikolas Wilkinson from University of Missouri-Columbia.

Participant satisfaction is of high importance to BioMaP, so assessments are an integral part of the program. Students take an identical pre- and post-test to see how their ideas and experiences have developed during the program and also are given the chance to evaluate BioMaP. Program directors and faculty are committed to providing a quality experience for all students, so feedback of all kinds is valued. Halfway through the program students break into focus groups to discuss the pros and cons of the program and changes that can be made for the second part of the experience.

“Before coming here, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school,” says Delgado. “Right now, I can say I am much more certain that I want to do a PhD.”

Check back to the program’s website in January for information about BioMaP 2012.