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Clarke Biology Student Nick Peterson Completes Research Internship at University of Iowa

By Clarke News  |  September 27, 2018
Wallrath Lab
Clarke Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Hecker, Professor of Biochemistry Dr. Lori Wallrath of the University of Iowa, and Clarke student Nick Peterson at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Clarke University biology major Nick Peterson ‘20 completed a summer internship through the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

FUTURE stands for Fostering Undergraduate Talent — Uniting Research and Education. This was the program’s tenth year, but the first time for a Clarke student’s participation.

Peterson, along with Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Hecker, used Drosophila (fruit flies) to examine the impact of gene mutations found in patients with muscular dystrophy and lipodystrophy on muscle structure and function.

Hecker shared, “I am continually seeking to expand my knowledge base as a scientist while striving to provide meaningful research experiences for my students. My motivation for participating in the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ came from the drive I have to contribute to those educational experiences. During my training as a scientist, I realized the impact that a mentor has not only on the success of a scientific research program but on the future success of the scientists they train.”

Peterson said, “The experience was amazing. I quickly fit right in and became comfortable and confident in the lab. We worked with Dr. Lori Wallrath of the University of Iowa’s biochemistry department. She and her lab members did a fantastic job teaching me about studying mutations in the LMNA gene and how to perform the various experiments needed for the project.”

Peterson plans to continue working on this project and researching the effects of mutations in the LMNA gene here at Clarke as part of his senior capstone.

He continued, “Working with Laura was incredibly helpful. She encouraged me to become independent and confident in the lab. I am striving to become a physical therapist, and independence and confidence are very important when working with patients. This internship is a perfect example of the reason I came to Clarke. I love the small class sizes, the relationships I build with my professors, and the incredible opportunities.”

Hecker observed, “I am truly passionate about both research and teaching, and enjoy taking part in the elation and achievement students experience through inquiry-based learning. I feel we are at the cusp of a very exciting time as we continue to develop opportunities for our undergraduate students to gain high quality research experiences.”

Clarke continues its strong commitment to research and science. The Marie Miske Center for Science Inquiry opened in 2013 and houses the biology and chemistry classrooms and research laboratories. The CSI is a 46,000-square-foot, three-story science building providing flexible and modern spaces designed to seamlessly integrate lecture and lab areas while fostering a collaborative, hands-on learning environment. For more information about Clarke’s research labs and facilities, visit this page.

For more information about the FUTURE in Biomedicine℠ program at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, visit their website.