WASHINGTON — Two MU undergraduate students showcased their work in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, hoping to draw lawmakers’ attention to research in Missouri.
Joining dozens of other undergraduates from around the country, junior Scott Schoenleber of Columbia and senior Stephanie Lane of Springfield, Mo., presented posters detailing their research on drug treatments.
Schoenleber, a biology and Spanish major, is trying to design a drug that would prevent the onset of Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes. The drug would disable the cells that cause the disease.
He said that he wanted to use his project to tell lawmakers how having a health science center would improve MU.
A bond issue being debated in the Missouri General Assembly includes money that would help fund the construction of a new health sciences research building at MU.
“Something like the Health Science Center would really help to shift the focus of MU’s medical school from primary care to a more research-based school,” Schoenleber said.
That, in turn, would help attract students for pursuit of master’s and doctoral degrees and create more projects such as the one he had on display in the Capitol, he said.
Lane, a chemistry major, works on pharmaceuticals that would treat melanoma, breast and prostate cancer. She’s trying to design a vehicle that would deliver a radioactive drug directly to cancer cells.
Lane said she wanted to use her Washington trip to show lawmakers how the funding bills they pass are helping her help people.
Both students said they faced the added challenge of making posters that conveyed the idea of their projects but would interest a general audience.
“It’s very difficult to actually be able to convey what we do,” Schoenleber said.
MU has about 400 undergraduates doing original research and recently established an office of undergraduate research.
Schoenleber and Lane said they were both selected from applications to undergraduate research groups.
Silvia Jurisson, Lane’s chemistry professor, said that she has always encouraged bachelor-level research. Lane has been one of about three undergraduates to do his or her own substantial projects in Jurisson’s lab since 1991, Jurisson said.
Lane said undergraduate research gave her a direction in her major and her life.
“It’s really changed me — I love this stuff,” she said, pointing at her poster.
Schoenleber said his research made his classes more relevant and his classes made his research more meaningful.