Class of 2013
Major: Biology with pre-med concentration
Favorite weekend activity: Painting, playing guitar, running, swimming
Career Plans: Medical school
"The undergraduate research assistants are involved in all aspects of research. We conduct studies, we analyze data and we prepare abstracts and posters and presentations, and in addition to those things, we are involved in the day-to-day routine work, such as calibration of the equipment."
When Andrew Klansky transferred to Johnson State, he was looking for a challenge. He knew the college offered a pre-medical concentration. He had heard about its strong science program and research opportunities for students. But he never imagined he would end up as a finalist at an academic research conference.
“My first year here I saw that Hans Haverkamp was looking for research assistants to work in his exercise physiology lab in the summer,” Andrew says. “So I applied and was accepted.”
He immediately dove into research work with Haverkamp, assistant professor and co-chair of Environmental & Health Sciences. In their lab work, Andrew and several other undergraduate research assistants measure and study the airway function of asthmatics during exercise.
“The undergraduate research assistants are involved in all aspects of research,” Andrew says. “We conduct studies, we analyze data and we prepare abstracts and posters and presentations, and in addition to those things, we are involved in the day-to-day routine work, such as calibration of the equipment. We work with asthmatic and non-asthmatic subjects.”
Through his work in the lab, Andrew says he has "discovered a love and passion for human physiology as well as being able to learn how to think critically and solve problems and learn how research is conducted. It’s a great opportunity for undergrads to become involved in research," he adds. "Not a lot of people have the opportunity to do research until they are in graduate school.”
Andrew believes the small size of Johnson State’s Environmental & Health Sciences Department has contributed to his success. The faculty work with him closely on his goals, including helping him prepare for the MCAT exams required for admission to medical school.
“We are a pretty small department, which is one of things I like,” he says. “If you’re going to do something like pre-med, it’s best that you can do it in a way so that you are intimate with and close to the professors so they can know your goals and can help you where you need help. The faculty are really supportive, and they want you to succeed. That makes all the difference in the world. If you go to a big university, with a lecture hall of 200 students, the faculty aren’t necessarily going to have the time to make sure you succeed.”
Haverkamp helped Andrew prepare for two conferences where he presented the asthma research. The most recent conference â€“ the Northeast region annual fall meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Providence, R.I. â€“ involved hours of preparation.
“It was a lot of work,” Andrew recalls. “The first step was creating an abstract and submitting it to the conference committee. Even though it was only 200 words, it involved a lot of revision and a lot of analyzing data. Hans was a great mentor during that process. He is great at integrating students into an environment outside the classroom. It’s one thing to read about data and another thing to conduct studies and collect data and prepare data and ultimately present data.”
The work paid off; Andrew was selected as one of six finalists in the undergraduate student competition for his abstract titled “The Effects of Altered Tidal Volume on Bronchial Tone During Variable Intensity Exercise in Asthmatic Adults.”
“Andrew did an excellent job, absolutely on par with students from UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, Springfield College and others,” Haverkamp says. “I am very proud of the immense time and effort Andrew put into the abstract and slide presentation, and the quality of his presentation was superb.”
For Andrew, the experience was invaluable. “Even though it was just a 10-minute presentation, you really have to convey everything you want to convey in a way that people can understand," he says. "That’s really important for someone going into science, having that skill of being able to present in front of a scientific audience.”