“Ryan is a naturally curious, outstanding graduate student. He is also a great team player and is always willing to help others in our lab and in labs we collaborate with.” -Vitor Lira, associate professor
Hometown: Waukee, Iowa
Faculty mentor/advisor: Vitor Lira, PhD, associate professor, health and human physiology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date? PhD, May 2026
Please describe your research: Our lab focuses on skeletal muscle biology and metabolism with aging. We seek to characterize protein quality control and mitochondrial health in order to identify novel therapeutic targets. Specifically, we are investigating the importance of the connection between mitochondria and other organelle in muscle cells.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? From moving, to speaking, to chewing, to breathing, skeletal muscle plays a major role in many aspects of our health. Furthermore, aging leads to an inevitable decline in muscle. Thus, discovering options to slow or prevent this process can have profound effects on the health spans of millions around the world.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began participating in research during my third year as an undergraduate at the university.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? My research experience at Iowa has given me all the resources I need to further my career in science. The faculty perpetuate a collaborative environment that inspires students to never stop learning. My mentor has been invaluable in my progression as a student, a teacher, a professional, and a leader.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? My goal is to continue to do research in my field and eventually start my own lab while teaching science.
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