Development and Analysis of an Astrocytic Scar in Vitro
Mentor: Dr. Diane Snow
Brandon's Beckman research proposal can be found at the bottom of the page.
Upon graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Biology, Brandon completed medical school at UK and is currently an Anesthesiology Resident at Medical University of South Carolina.
Journal of Neuroscience Methods
Localized gene expression of guidance molecules in a co-culture model to direct axonal growth
From Brandon (Spring 2005):
Since I was a little boy I have always been interested in how things work. Much to my parents' dismay, I constantly had clocks, TV remotes, and pretty much anything I could get my hands on taken apart because I wanted to see what was inside. This innate curiosity that I possessed stayed with me into high school where I became increasingly interested in the natural sciences. I loved every biology class that I took and I soon decided that a career in science, whether it be a professor, researcher, or doctor, was right for me.
During the fall semester of my freshman year of college I became involved in the University of Kentucky Undergraduate Research Program (UKURP). I began my research in the lab of Dr. Phillip Bonner in the Department of Biology working on sensory neuron axon branching and elongation in response to various treatment drugs (mainly botulinum toxin). My experiences in Dr. Bonner's lab ultimately led me to continue in research. I loved the hands-on training the opportunity to apply my knowledge to a problem to find an answer.
The summer following my freshman year, I participated in the NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program here at UK. This is when I began my work with Dr. Diane Snow in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology on spinal cord injury and axon guidance. This has been my area of research for the past three years and has resulted in several poster presentations at local and national meetings as well as a talk at the annual Beckman Conference this past July.
One of the most beneficial parts of my experiences in research is the amount of guidance that I have received from my mentor. Aside from the volumes I've learned about spinal cord injury and lab techniques, my mentor has also provided me with valuable life lessons that I will undoubtedly take with me for many years to come. Being a young college student in the field of scientific research can be quite overwhelming. In the beginning I remember being timid and unsure about even entering into the program, because I had no idea what to expect. But after meeting with my mentor those anxieties seemed to disappear. It helps knowing that my mentor has been in the exact same place as me and can relate to how I feel. The Beckman Scholarship Program is an amazing program that provides undergraduates with the tools they need to pursue a career in research, but none of it would be possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of the mentors.
I am in the process of applying to medical school. I will probably puruse an MD/PhD because I know that I love to do research and would like to continue in this field. I am also interested in business and would consider an MBA sometime in the future. My experiences as an undergraduate researcher and a Beckman Scholar have undoubtedly prepared me for whatever my future holds.