April 19, 2021
Getting undergraduate students exposed to research opportunities on campus is one of Aaron Stoker’s goals. Stoker, a 2018 recipient of the University of Missouri Faculty Mentor of the Year Award and the associate director of the Thompson Laboratory for Regenerative Orthopaedics, has been helping his student researchers prepare for the recent UM System Undergraduate Research Day and this week’s Undergraduate Research Week at Mizzou.
“The benefit of events like these is to help lawmakers better understand that the money they invest in Mizzou translates to students learning more and becoming good scientists for the greater good,” Stoker says. “These forums give students an opportunity to gain confidence and get feedback on how clearly they can communicate their findings.”
Get to know three of Stoker’s students who are participating in Undergraduate Research Week:
Junior biochemistry major
Hometown: Washington, Missouri
If you would have asked a 5-year-old Anna Sullentrup what she “wanted to be” as she darted around her grandparents’ scenic farm in Krakow, Missouri, she surely would’ve piped “veterinarian.” That might still be her ultimate path. But 15 years later, Sullentrup’s undergraduate research at Mizzou has presented that Franklin County girl with welcome options.
“Now I’m not sure if I want to pursue veterinary medicine, medicine or research,” said Sullentrup, who studies the effects of medications on cell metabolism in arthritis patients. “I love the collaborative experience in the research laboratory. I had no idea that I would meet friends, mentors, instructors — so many people who would shape so many things about my college experience.”
Freshman biological sciences major
Hometown: Hannibal, Missouri
Complex scientific topics are nothing new to sophomore biological sciences major Elise Baumann, the daughter of a pediatrician and orthopedic surgeon in Hannibal, Missouri. With two brothers in med school at Mizzou, medical conversations at the dinner table were commonplace.
“I had many opportunities to see them work and watch my dad do surgeries,” said Baumann, who investigates intervertebral disc degeneration. “At Mizzou, working with different teams that work on different things means I get to hear about their research too, not just what I’m focused on. I have learned so much more than I would in class.”
Sophomore biology and economics major
Hometown: O’Fallon, Missouri
Ally Sivapiromrat recently won an award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students for her research on intervertebral disc inflammation.
“I would greatly encourage all incoming students to get involved with research,” Sivapiromrat said. “It has been my favorite aspect of my undergraduate career. My favorite days involve going directly from biology or chemistry class to the research lab, dissecting samples and learning more about intervertebral disc degeneration with samples right in front of my eyes.”