“You have lived through a very intensive eight-week period…I hope you find your time here to be of value,” DMU Provost Ralitsa Akins, M.D., Ph.D., told participants in the University’s Mentored Student Research Program in her keynote at its closing event on July 20. “I’ll wager that each one of you learned much more than you might have anticipated. I mean that not only in terms of your respective areas of scholarly focus, but also in learning the value of working together, applying different methodologies and working through the difficulties and challenges in your experimentation.”
MSRP is a competitive program in which DMU students and undergraduates work with University faculty mentors on research projects in anatomy/paleontology, biomedical science, education, movement science and public health. The program also includes research presentations by DMU faculty and the closing program with oral and poster presentations by MSRP participants.
This year, 16 DMU students and 17 undergraduates from six colleges and universities participated in the program, submitting 32 abstracts for the final event. They investigated topics ranging from treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome, renal control of blood pressure and estrogen’s ability to mitigate hypertension to the clinical implications and food insecurities resulting from the rising cost of insulin. More than 30 DMU faculty served as mentors who guided the students’ research.
MSRP is offered by the University’s Office of Research and Research and Grants Committee. In addition, DMU’s Continuing Medical Education Department offered continuing education credits to participating health care professionals.
“The goal of the DMU Mentored Student Research Program is to provide opportunities for students to develop their skills as researchers by receiving coaching and mentoring from faculty,” said Jeffrey Gray, Ph.D., vice president of research and global initiatives. “Dissemination of new knowledge, by faculty and student researchers, supports Des Moines University’s mission.”
In her keynote to MSRP participants, Dr. Akins reflected on the “eclectic variety of roles and responsibilities” she’s had in her career. She joined DMU on May 1 after serving as associate dean of faculty affairs and professor in the medical education and clinical sciences department at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University in Spokane, WA. She also has held a number of leadership positions at California Northstate University College of Medicine, State University of New York College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center and United Healthcare Services Wilson Medical Center.
At those institutions, some of the areas she was involved in were curriculum change, interprofessional education innovation, implementation of rural health care delivery mechanisms and expansion of a two-year clinical campus to an accredited four-year medical school.
“In these and other endeavors, I seek to apply a comprehensive, inclusive methodology and processes for validation of research effectiveness and success,” she said. “My research journey has been rewarding because of the variety of the subject areas I chose. Some of you may have a clear, dedicated path of discovery, and that is admirable. Others of you may not yet have a sense of a particular areas of focus and, like me, wish to explore different topics. There is no set rule, so I encourage you to follow your own instincts and passions for discovery.”
View all the photos from the Mentored Student Research Program by clicking the album below: