I am currently in my 4th year of my PhD training in Cell Biology at the OU Health Sciences Center under the guidance of Dr. Eric Howard. My project is focused on a unique mechanism of post-transcriptional
modification of Angiopoietin-2 expression.
When I was a student at OC ('95-'99), I participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Education program (SURE Program) at the Health Sciences Center after completing a year of Undergraduate research through Dr. Hill's class. After the SURE program, I presented at the Oklahoma Academy of Sciences in 1998, competing against students from OU, OSU and many other state and private schools. Because of the opportunity I had in the Undergraduate Research class and the SURE program, I had a distinct advantage over the other students and ended up winning the top presentation award given that year.
I would have gone to Dental School if I had not taken the opportunity to try undergraduate research for myself. I really love making my own path in science and not just learning about what someone else did from a textbook. Research gives me the choice to answer complex problems in science using my own ideas in the most creative and effective way I can imagine. I also like the flexibility a PhD can offer versus an MD or a DDS. You can work anywhere from an academic University to Biotech industry or even writing scientific patents as patent officer for a law firm. If you don't enjoy one aspect of science
or your location in the country, there are many opportunities to switch fields or to move somewhere you have always wanted to live. To do any of these things as a clinician is much more difficult and sometimes counter-productive for building a career.
You don't REALLY know what research is like until you do it with your own hands and get a chance to make and test your own hypotheses. Take the opportunity to do get involved in the Undergraduate Research course and explore your career options before you make that big decision of where to spend the next 4 years.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Tim VanWagoner