“Autumn is a dedicated graduate student. She had worked hard, juggled military service, and overcome a lot to be where she is and to be in the final year or so of her thesis research.” -Robert Kerns, professor, pharmaceutical sciences and experimental therapeutics
Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia
Faculty mentor/advisor: Robert J. Kerns, PhD, professor, pharmaceutical sciences and experimental therapeutics, College of Pharmacy
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? PhD in medicinal and natural products chemistry, May 2023
Please describe your research: My research involves performing chemical reactions that produce compounds that reduce blood glucose levels in the presence of insulin. I purify and prove the identity of these compounds through various analytical means, including high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance. The goal of my project is to make a novel compound that treats type II diabetic patients.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Current treatments for type II diabetes do not address reduction of blood glucose levels through utilization of insulin created within the body. As a result, identifying insulin-mediated glucose sensitizers could result in a sustainable treatment for type II diabetes.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was proactive in identifying who I wanted to rotate with and what the primary focus of their research was. As a result, I participated in research, through rotations, as soon as I got to the University of Iowa.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research provided me with a wealth of opportunities and skill sets. Conducting research has broadened my critical thinking and technical skills. Additionally, traveling to discuss research and collaborating on research projects has allowed me to network with leaders within the scientific community.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I intend to continue building my technical skills and proficiencies at a postdoctoral or industrial position, and eventually teach at the university level.
Banner location: Downtown—Washington St., across from Iowa Chop House