Dr. Rodney King and Gillie Brown
Mahurin Honors College (MHC) has always made it a priority to equip students with the resources they need to continue their learning inside and outside the classroom. When looking for opportunities outside of the classroom, many scholars look for opportunities to conduct research. WKU faculty members are great at connecting with scholars, but few have worked as closely with MHC scholars pursuing their academic passions as Dr. Rodney King.
Dr. King, professor of biology at Western Kentucky University, worked with research students. He has an active research program and teaches several courses, including microbiology and molecular biology. The ability to conduct research with students is actually what drew Dr. King to WKU where he has been teaching and doing research for 20 years. HI’s research focuses primarily on bacterial phages.
Gillie Brown (MHC’ 22) is a student with whom Dr. King worked closely during his time on the Hill. Gillie majored in biology and chemistry at WKU. She first became interested in Dr. King’s lab after taking a course through the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. Gillie participated in Dr. King’s research lab for about 3-4 years at WKU. Based on this research, Gillie completed a Experience/synthesis thesis (THIS).
Something unique about the research program here at WKU in the Biology Department is that freshmen have the opportunity to participate in research. Research is not just in a laboratory. It can also be conducted outdoors in nature or other places relevant to what you are trying to research. Dr. King encourages researchers considering doing research to “find your interest. What really motivates you to go out there and do the work? Dr. King explains how you should seek out more lab experience if you’re interested in doing research. This includes thinking about courses that give you lab experience. “Think about your freshman lab experiences… The more lab experiences you can gain during your classes, the more ready you are to enter a lab.”
For those interested in participating in research, Dr. King advises researchers to “start the conversation early, go talk to the professor, go to the websites and see what interests you, and be persistent. Your best insights will come from the students already in the labs. Being proactive about research and using the resources at your disposal will help any researcher pursue an opportunity, like research, that they want. There are opportunities in terms of financial aid offered by the Mahurin Honors College for scholars wishing to pursue research. An external resource mentioned by Dr. King was the Kentucky Academy of Sciences which allows researchers to apply for small grants for their research. There are so many opportunities within Mahurin Honors College, WKU in general, as well as outside resources like the Kentucky Academy of Science. As CMH scholars, you have every opportunity to follow the paths that can best help you in your ascent to excellence.
So now it’s up to you. What are your interests? What are you thinking? What questions do you want to answer? Who will you inspire through your academic activities?