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“It’s definitely a two-way street here, because while we were working on these methods here previously, Adam and have students have taken it in a new direction and have done work we haven’t done,” Elcock said. “It’s not just us showing Adam stuff; he’s bringing expertise to our lab.”

That’s a sentiment echoed in the lab of Andy Frank, a UI assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology. Frank is teaming with Wartburg College’s Stephanie Toering Peters, an associate professor of biology, and her student, junior Jessa Bidwell.

“It’s wonderful to have an experienced and trained scientist in the lab for the summer, and she also gets to bring one of her students to help with the research,” Frank said. “With them in the lab over the summer, they’re able to explore experimental ideas myself and my personnel don’t necessarily have the time to do during the year, so they can expand our research program in further directions.”

Peters was a fellow in the program three years ago, and returned this summer to continue the research she began in 2009. The project, she explained, entails looking at the effects of a particular gene on the development of the neuromuscular junction. At UI, she has access to a confocal microscope for the research, which is not available at Wartburg.

Peters, who moved her family to Iowa City for the summer to take part in the program again, said it also offers the students a chance to get a feel for post-graduate opportunities.

“For students from somewhere like Wartburg, to be able to come here and see what a large research institution looks like, and being able to get into a lab and see what a grad student does, is a great opportunity,” Peters said.

Bidwell, who is studying neuroscience and Spanish at Wartburg, has been spending much of her summer hunkered down over a microscope examining fruit flies.

“This is the first time I’ve ever used a big-name microscope before; it’s the first time I’ve heard of a lot of the things I’m working on,” she said.

UI spends between $75,000 and $100,000 a year to put on the FUTURE program, which is funded largely through the College of Medicine, but also receives funding through the Office of the Provost. The partnering colleges provide funding for student stipends, as well.

Shea said that, over the years, the program’s partnerships have generated seven scientific articles, many presentations at academic conferences and a number of ongoing projects in which faculty from across the state collaborate year round.

The FUTURE program has also helped attract many of the student participants back to UI after graduation, Shea said.

“We know that there are students here in our graduate programs and our clinical programs that learned about the University of Iowa through their association with the FUTURE program itself, by coming with a faculty member or being advised by a faculty member who participated in the program,” Shea said. “So we know that bringing talent to the University of Iowa is a wonderful outcome.”


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen,