Past Research Experiences
Tom's first exposure to research was in Dr. Adriana Alcantara's lab at UT Austin. For 3 years, he balanced college and research in neuroscience. The lab primarily focused on the science behind alcohol addiction. In particular, the role of acetylcholinergic interneurons within the nucleus accumbens in a mouse model of addiction. After college, he joined Dr. Jerry Shay's lab and teamed with Dr. Andres Roig to develop a sustainable, in vitro model of intestinal epithelium. His hope is to develop a model to better understand the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancer.
Current Areas of Interest/Research
Tom remains interested in gastroenterology as well as cancer. Now, in his second year of medical school, time is scarce. While finding some time to continue refining his previous work, he is considering taking a year off and applying for a research fellowship.
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum, Dallas, TX, 2010. "Developing a sustained, organotypic in vitro model of intestinal epithelium"
T.W. Ju, A.I. Roig, J.W. Shay. (2009). Developing a sustained, organotypic in vitro model of intestinal epithelium. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum, Dallas, TX, 2010.
Current Professional Trajectory
Tom will graduate from UT Southwestern Medical School in June 2012. He is undecided on a particular field but anticipates a career in academic medicine.
Personal Words of Wisdom
1. Look and ask around - you go to UT Southwestern where research opportunities
are plentiful and each has significant merits. Be sure and pick a project that
fits you best. I'm sure you hear that fairly often but I'd like to answer the
question "HOW". I started by looking back at what fields interested
me. Start by thinking about illnesses you've encountered personally, college
classes you liked enough to not fall asleep, etc. Make a list early, go online,
and see what each faculty member is doing in that particular field. Then, email
email email. Email the professor, talk to him/her. Email Dr. McPhaul and ask
him about that professor. Don't be afraid to ask questions because it's a big
2. There are plenty of opportunities - please know that there are so many opportunities to do research other than the summer between MS1 and MS2. If you're interested in another field and feel strongly about it, explore the option of taking a year off. Ask us about fellowship opportunities and ask Drs. Mihalic and Wagner about how to fit research into MS4 (you have 3 months off).
3. Buy a calendar - the summer goes by so fast. Personally, I took on a project that required a lot of planning and material gathering. It's essential to plan your project out from Day 1 if not earlier (during the spring).