Northwestern Graduates and Student Participate in Off-campus Summer Research

Two May graduates of Northwestern College and a senior are involved in competitive off-campus research programs this summer.

Nnenna Nwaelugo, a 2019 graduate with majors in biology-health professions and chemistry, and Mitchell Van Kalsbeek, a senior biology-health professions major, are spending nine weeks conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Brian Smith in the biochemistry department at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Their team’s research focuses on reversible acetylation and gaseous signaling and how these pathways underlie basic biochemical processes important in inflammation-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Type I diabetes.

Nwaelugo, a Nigerian who will begin medical studies at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the fall, is in her second year of research in Smith’s lab. Van Kalsbeek, from Sioux Falls, is part of the institution’s Summer Program for Undergraduate Research. Last summer, he conducted research during an internship at the Avera Institute of Human Genetics.

Emily Starr, a 2019 psychology graduate from Firth, Neb., was selected from among more than 600 applicants to participate in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Starr is working for seven weeks with Dr. Brian Wymbs in clinical research related to the treatment of children with social, emotional and behavioral problems. Wymbs and colleagues have found that parents of such children are at greater risk of divorce, and their ongoing research studies seek to provide information to guide interventions for strengthening those relationships.