Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics
I grew up in Muscatine, Iowa, the self-proclaimed Melon City. My first interest in science involved these same watermelons, along with every other kind of fruit and vegetable I could grow in the plot of garden I was given at my grandparent's farm. Around age ten, I declared my intention to become a farmer, a plan which soon developed into studying botany instead (probably to the relief of my parents). With that in mind, I worked for the next eight years during high school and college at a local greenhouse, often as the only worker besides the owners, which meant a lot of one-on-one time with plants. Although my love for working with plants has never diminished, I eventually realized that as a scientist I would rather work with people, with their advantage of being able to carry on a conversation much better than the average geranium. Since I have always been a "hands on" learner, as well as someone who enjoys studying and laboratory work, I was attracted to the MD/PhD degree. I was attracted to the program at KU in particular because the environment among the faculty is is very close-knit and at the same time student-friendly.
During my undergraduate years, I was privileged to work with several biologists who encouraged me to study further, including Dr. Paul Mayes, Dr. Darrell Wiens, and Dr. Kavita Dhanwada. Under their tutelage, I was introduced to the wonders of cellular biology, and completed a summer project with Drs. Wiens and Dhanwada involving the effects of plant compounds on cancer cells. This was a pivotal experience in my education, as I realized I could combine my interests by working with both plants and human subjects at the same time.
In choosing my research mentor, I am considering those faculty who work with plant compounds in medicine, especially those in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. For my medical specialty, I am interested in Family Medicine and Geriatrics. I am currently serving as a Student Representative for the Geriatric Interest Group, as a JayDoc Volunteer and Technology Committee member, and, oh yes, in the crucial role of a Birthday Officer for the MD/PhD Student Council.
Outside of classes, I enjoy gardening, reading, studying the Spanish and Russian languages, and cooking up culinary experiments for my husband Jestin and our golden retriever Murphy. My most recent extracurricular projects are learning how to drive a stick and attempting to play euchre, both of which are progressing slowly. I am very proud and pleased to be a part of this wonderful program, and I would recommend it to anyone chiefly because the people involved are extremely supportive of the students. If you have any questions about my experiences with this program, please email me.
Mentor: Beth Levant, Ph.D.
Michelle Stoffel, Ph.D.