On May 28, the Nebraska Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program welcomed 29 undergraduate students from across Nebraska as they embark on their summer research experience at Creighton University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and UNMC.
Below Elias Smith, a biology major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, talks about his INBRE experience.
Tell me about yourself. Who are your heroes?
I am a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I spend most of my free time reading fantasy-fiction books, working out at the gym, and watching anime. I like to study too. I am definitely a cat person. My heroes come from characters in anime: Midoriya Izuku, Gon Freecs, Eren Yaeger, Yuichiro Hyakuya, Kirigaya Kazuto, and Savon Phillips. I gain great inspiration from them because they have so much passion for what they do and stand up to impossible challenges again and again, even after failing.
What are your career goals?
Currently, I would like to end up in a M.D./Ph.D. program. To have the technical skills from both is an intriguing proposition for I believe each are required to obtain a level of competency that could serve me well in my future in medicine. For doctors to help patients they first need researchers to give them the tools so it seems important to understand both aspects. A career in pathology sounds most interesting right now.
How did you become interested in science?
I had really no specific interest in science over other subjects until I started my senior year of high school. I was privileged enough to be a part of the UNMC High School Alliance that year. In getting to come to UNMC every day and be shown what medicine is about I found a passion for science. I felt and still feel that there are few things as intellectually rewarding as the ideas shown to me in the program. The complexity and usefulness of the classes made me want to explore it more. I felt an incredibly strong sense of purpose and ability from the instructors and people on campus that I was inspired to want to join them. I have been driven since then to return to that experience and hope to recapture it in graduate school.
What do you hope the INBRE program will do for you?
Challenge me. I want to be made to work and learn at a rate I have yet been asked to. I want to be surrounded by people smarter than me and given tasks I mess up but can grow to master with practice. I want to be shown what graduate school is like and specifically, what a Ph.D. can give me in the future. And I want to be a stronger scientist from this experience. I hope to be given the chance to find my future and be put to work the whole time doing amazing things.
How do you see science evolving over the next 20 years?
I see the sciences becoming even more reliant on technology. The overlap of computer science into medicine will be tremendous too as it already has started to head that way. Anyone interested in science must have a strong command over computers to be competitive in the future. More things may become automated as well. Without technology and computers we would not be where we are today making it central to progress. I still think, though, that the sciences will always need actual people who are excited about what they do and brave enough to try to bring about change regardless of how good technology becomes.