Kevin Murach, PhD, didn’t always want to be a researcher. But, with the encouragement of several mentors through his career, Murach (now a post-doctoral fellow with the Center for Muscle Biology) is part of an elite team of scientists whose projects have been consistently funded at the federal level.
After studying exercise science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and James Madison University, Murach received his PhD from Ball State. He’s been with the College of Health Sciences for five years studying muscle biology and muscle frailty under the instruction of several esteemed researchers: Drs. Charlotte Peterson, Esther Dupont-Versteegden and John McCarthy.
The muscle research I’m doing now will hopefully have implications 10 to 15 years down the road,” Murach said. “Currently, we’re still at the foundational level. I hope what we are discovering now will translate into clinical solutions for future patients.”
Whether a post-doctorate, graduate or undergraduate student, constructive and positive mentorship can be one of the most valuable assets one can receive. Murach dedicates many of his successes in research to the high quality of mentorship at the College of Health Sciences.
“Dr. Peterson’s reputation in the muscle research community is quite renowned and joining her lab was a natural fit for me,” he said. “The Center for Muscle Biology is known for its translational and impactful research. She and Dr. Dupont-Versteegden are open to ideas and encourage us to pursue projects we are passionate about.”
To some, a lab may seem like a place of concreteness with no room for individuality – but at the Center for Muscle Biology that is not the case.
“I think the free-flowing exchange of ideas and the opportunity to be creative has really facilitated my career and my success,” Murach said, “The second time I was funded was actually due to a side project I was developing parallel to my main projects. I’m grateful to have mentors who push me to build up a portfolio in my individual areas of interest separate from the lab.”
Thanks to the college’s undergraduate research program, Murach has grown into a mentor himself and has worked with many of CHS’s highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students.
“I want to create an environment where students can ask questions and develop critical thinking. These skills are essential for any person entering the health care industry,” he said. I very much encourage students to arrive at their own conclusions with my guidance. As long as someone is self-motivated, all I need to do is offer them the tools to ask and answer their own questions. This, I believe, is the pathway to success.”
Murach said being funded as a researcher is his proudest achievement so far. “My career is still so young,” he said. “I’ve been able to secure funding twice now which can be uncommon. In the next five to ten years, I hope I’ll be putting in a tenure package at an institution where I can plant roots and open my own lab.”