A summer of career preparation & cancer cell research: Timothy Matthews

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For sophomore Timothy Matthews, summer lab work is all about preparation. Minutes spent researching oxidative damage in altered DNA and how these changes lead to the development of cancer cells allow him to build familiarity with research and lab work that he will carry with him for the rest of his career.

“With class, you really have to follow a certain protocol and you really only do probably one experiment once during your whole semester,” Matthews said. “Whereas I’m doing this over and over again and I’m able to look at getting better at it so when I actually get ready to apply for some kind of graduate school or want to work in a lab later, I can have these skills already down and I’ll have learned them ahead of time.”

 Not only has his work in the lab's built necessary skill sets, but it’s also fostered a greater sense of excitement for careers in his field.

“I can improve on what I know and how these particular techniques can be done,” Matthews said. “I’m even more optimistic about the field I want to go into and kind of reassured that I want to do this.”  

Matthews is not alone. Hoosiers every day are working and interning with positions in their field and developing the kind of hands-on experience that is hard to obtain within the classroom.

 Whether it’s in a lab, in an office, or in another country, there are a wealth of diversified learning opportunities and with just a little research, it’s easy to find what kind of experience is right for you. For Matthews, engaged learning was a clear next step.

 “It’s really just given me a head start,” Matthews said. “If you’re going to be working in a lab, you’re going to be getting this experience anyway.  But the fact that I’m getting it in my undergraduate years in the summer, it takes a whole lot of pressure off rather than learning it later on.”

 For more information on how to get involved with undergraduate research at Indiana University Bloomington, visit the Office of Engaged Learning at www.engagedlearning.indiana.edu or contact the office via email: engageiu@indiana.edu