Mackenzie Cross, Undergraduate student, Anthropology
Traces umami receptors
• Hometown: Massena, IA
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Andrew Kitchen, Associate Professor, Anthropology
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? B.S. in Anthropology in Spring 2020
• Please describe your research: I am looking at the genes which code for Umami receptors. These are taste receptors which allow human to taste “savory” flavors such as meat. By looking at how these genes differ between humans and our close relatives, we can better understand human’s relationship with meat throughout human evolution.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? Evolution has shaped not only human’s bodies, but also human health. It is important to understand the things that make humans evolutionarily unique, in order to understand how these features interact and shape human health today.
• How soon after starting at University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started research about two months into my first year here.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at University of Iowa? It is one thing to learn about something in a classroom, but it is another thing to actually research it. When you participate in research on a subject, you’re forced to intimately know what you study, as well as question assumptions around it.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I am taking a gap year for research, then I intend to apply to MD/PhD programs research child and maternal health.
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