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IOWA BIOSCIENCES ACADEMY Celebrating its 15-year anniversary...



Lori Adams co-director Vincent Rodgers co-director Megan Rowe Johnson assistant director Donald Yarbrough evaluation and assessment Brinda Shetty program coordinator Steven Kehoe marketing coordinator Alexis Fischer editor and designer Elaina Hoffman editor and designer

A Letter From

The Directors


n 1999 the Iowa Biosciences Advantage program was established at the University of Iowa by an effort of Provost Peter Nathan. This National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored program has as its mission to increase the participation of underrepresented United States citizens in procuring the NIH R01 research grants. Given the tapestry of education in the United States and the scientific infrastructure, this is an arduous task to undertake. To begin with, the mission would have to dissolve the lingering and often subtle debilitating effects that racial and gender discrimination has inflicted on the scientific workforce in the United States. More pointedly, the NIH wants to expand the intellectual horizons of research in the United States by developing a highway which taps into those American resources that have been traditionally ignored and underdeveloped in the past. This would add new insights, points of views, and scientific approaches to problem directly related to human biosciences. Through the IBA, the University of Iowa took this task by the horns more than fifteen years ago and has steadfastly dealt with the inevitable challenges. Using academic excellence as the primary tool, the IBA program now brings opportunities and scientific social capital to students of science. The massive research complex at the University of Iowa is often devoid of undergraduate research students. By empowering underrepresented students of science, IBA has devised ways and practices that can be used to significantly improve the research experience for all science undergraduates at the University of Iowa and eliminate the virtual impasse between undergraduate education and scientific research. Through a holistic approach to education and research, the IBA program has enlisted the efforts of research faculty from eight colleges and the expertise of career counseling psychology. The IBA program now works as part of the institution at the University of Iowa and has developed the Undergraduate Certificate in Translational Science, spearheaded the Combined BS/PhD Program in Biochemistry and Microbiology, and supported graduate students in several colleges. To add to this, IBA supports the important role of research mentors by offering research mentor training workshops on campus that can be emulated by virtually any unit on campus. The IBA is planning new endeavors that highlight the importance of public communication and outreach and plans to incorporate the mathematical sciences into the bioscience effort, an often under appreciated but highly valuable activity in the scientific community. In these last fifteen years, the IBA has worked with a colorful tapestry of students from varied backgrounds and with a myriad of personalities and aspirations. Through these IBA participants, the IBA has been able to forge strong positive relationships with research scientists throughout the campus that allows IBA to efficiently segue the next generation of future scientists into research experiences. The IBA has learned something positive from every single participant, and hopes that every participant that has left IBA has at least an equally positive experience.

Lori Adams, Program Director

Vincent Rodgers, Project Director



he Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA) is excited to announce that it will be celebrating its 16th anniversary as an accredited program at The University of Iowa. The IBA is a grant-funded program that supports the academic and personal success of academically promising university students who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the Biosciences. The program focuses on inclusion and as part of its mission, it seeks talented underrepresented students who may benefit from the scientific cultural capital provided. With additional financial support from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED) and the Chief Diversity Office, IBA students have access to hands-on research opportunities that offer competitive wages, direct access to faculty mentors, professional development seminars, career counseling, free tutoring and a feeling of community amongst students, staff and faculty that value and promote diversity in the Behavioral and Biomedical sciences. Over the course of these past 15 years, the IBA has successfully demonstrated its ability to overcome obstacles from external sources in order to thrive on Iowa’s campus. In the spring of 1999, Provost Peter Nathan and Professor Bob Phillips introduced the program to the University of Iowa as the Iowa Biosciences Advantage (IBA). IBA was situated within the Medical School building, further bridging the paths between the undergraduate and graduate students. The program received its funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of Iowa Chief Diversity Office and the Office of the Vice President for Research

and Development. The University of Iowa’s School of Medicine is considered a major state research 1 medical school, so Nathan was able to acquire the funds from NIH with limited difficulty. IBA focused its effort on the prospective student making the transition from high school to college – a summer program was instituted in an effort to raise awareness amongst potential applicants for the upcoming fall semester. “There was a large shift from my time working as a graduate student with IBA in 1999 to working full-time in 2001”, says Dr. Jodi Linley, assistant director at the time. “By 2001, co-directors, Profs. Sarah England and Beverly Davidson, worked vigorously to identify cutting edge bio-scientists.” It was their primary goal to expose undergraduate students to an active research program with staff at all varying levels. Students were able to see the trajectory of these career types, and this encouraged others to see the importance in their degree and its potential of being immersed as a member in the scientific community. Over the years, IBA was repositioned in various buildings across campus, from Seashore Hall, Bowen Science Building, College of Medicine Administrative Building (CMAB), Phillips Hall and Gilmore Hall. Prof. England, the program director, worked together with the University to gain their compliance and willingness to accept IBA as a credible program on campus. In 2002, the Candidate to Scholar Program was introduced, which provided students a more flexible path to explore multiple career options. Academic development became a more focused concern, as students were now able to decide if a career

in research fit their core interest. By the end of the year, England and Linley were now working in partnership to continue engaging the students and working with them in more one-on-one settings. England and Linley initiated a number of significant changes to IBA over the next several years. In tandem, they introduced a fresh new sense of “spirit, dedication and commitment to the curriculum.” Prof. Vincent Rodgers, one of IBA’s present directors, emphasized the importance in creating a program that was fully committed by the University and having a long lasting presence at the University of Iowa. The program has continued to grow under current program director, Dr. Lori Adams who was brought in to work in unison with Rodgers in 2011. “Lori has added an air of academic excellence to IBA,” mentions Rodgers in reference to their pairing up with Biology Honors, as well as other affiliated programs on campus. Stressing the importance of academic excellence and strong research communication skills, Adams incorporated additional programs under IBA to increase student development. In 2011, together with faculty in Biochemistry and Microbiology, IBA helped spearhead the development of the Fast Track Program, a combined BS/PhD degree for highly qualified students seeking a PhD in microbiology and biochemistry fields. Students essentially can substitute their senior year of undergraduate studies to begin entry into their first year of graduate studies. The IBA Graduate Fellowship Program was later introduced as a way to provide financial

support to underrepresented graduate students working towards their PhDs. IBA Graduate Fellows serve as peer role models for undergraduate students. This type of mentoring is becoming more prevalent on campus with graduate students playing a more significant role in assisting other IBA students ease their way into future career paths. Adams and Rodgers have made it a priority to bring attention to the important role mentors play in the research process and began offering research mentors the opportunity to partipate in research mentor training in 2013. Adams and Rodgers instituted other significant ground breaking changes to the program earlier this year. After receiving approval from NIH, the name changed to Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA). The IBA is truly excited about its future. Entering as a virtually unknown program just 15 years ago, there is now a clear vision for where the program wants to be and the impact it will have on a number of future generations of students. The IBA is now permanently located in the Biology Building which works well with its adjunct affiliation to the Biology program. Through the collaborative efforts of the program’s initial pioneers and its current leadership, the IBA looks to have a very promising future as a mainstay program at the University of Iowa.

- By Alexis Fischer




The Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA) continues to stay in close contact with students who have graduated from the program and the University. Below are several of IBA’s graduate students who kept us up-to-date with where they are now, what is in store for their future and some of their favorite experiences while being involved with the program.


ALISSA DOOBAY Clinical Psychology, PhD Alissa was a part of IBA for all four years of her undergraduate studies and found it to be very essential in helping her stand out amongst others competing for graduate schools. Her colleagues in the research lab were either current graduate students or graduate school-bound advanced level students, all of whom were excellent role models and mentors during her own preparation and planning process. Today, Alissa is the Supervisor of Psychological Service at the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic, which is part of the UI College of Education. She is a licensed Psychologist and Health Service Provider in Pyschology.

ALFONZA BROWN Psychology, B.A., Epidemiology, MPH. Alfonza joined IBA the summer before freshman year because of his interest in receiving a PhD in the sciences. IBA exposed him to a number of opportunities available for him to follow his dream. To this day, he continues to use the skills he learned from the mandatory IBA seminars and research labs. One of the reasons he decided to go to graduate school in Public Health was because of a roundtable discussion with other Public Health graduate students sponsored by IBA. He said they showed a genuine passion for their work and it proved to have an immediate impact, something he was very interested in doing himself and is now able to do today.



Biochemistry, PhD

European Law, LLM.

Shameika was first introduced to the IBA program by an undergraduate recruiting student as a senior in high school. She was then persuaded to participate in the 6-week summer program the summer before her freshman year, which ultimately ended up being a life-changing experience. As an IBA student, her laboratory research with Dr. Pamela K. Geyer was one of the key driving factors in pushing forward a career path in research and the biosciences. Shameika won numerous awards and published her research in multiple peer-reviewed scientific journals. These successes further encouraged Shameika to obtain a PhD in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University. She is very grateful for the program and its directors who mentored, supported, encouraged and inspired her to get to where she is today.

Lara spent a couple of years with IBA conducting research in two labs, where much of her focus was on emotion and memory. Though she has changed career paths, IBA gave her the opportunity to deeply explore certain areas of neuropsychology that continue to interest her till this day. She remains connected to the mentors and researchers she worked with in IBA and is appreciative of the life-long interest and passion IBA has provided her. Lara has decided to pursue international law and is currently working in Paris at Winston & Strawn where she is practicing international arbitration.

LYDIA MORRIS Biology Lydia got involved with IBA because of her interest in learning about other careers in the biomedical sciences and being able to participate in research as an undergraduate student. IBA helped prepare her for PhD work because of the many available career development resources and opportunities to present her research in various formats. As a postdoctoral fellow today, Lydia continues to use the skills she learned from career planning and serving as a scholar in the IBA program.





WHERE ARE STUDENTS FROM? Population of students home state, 1999-2015


90 Ethnicity

PRESENTATIONS In the past 5 years



PUBLICATIONS In the past 15 years



























122 STEM* Degrees Awarded *NSF definition of STEM subjects








What are the current students and faculty saying? “I’m honored to be part of the “IBA family” where great science is discussed over tasty dinners. IBA is where science meets FUN!”

– Lori Wallrath Professor of Biochemistry

“Thanks to IBA I have learned about many new career options in science that I did not even know existed. Now know that getting a PhD is something that I want to do and being a part of IBA is helping me prepare to pursue this goal. With their strong support network and the many resources they provide they make achieving this goal less intimidating than it would seem if I was not a part of this group.”

- Maria Nunez Hernandez

Biochemistry Class of 2017


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“The Iowa Biosciences Academy offers me resources, faculty connections, and insight that will make me a stronger candidate for graduate programs in the future. Through financial research support, mentoring, and weekly seminars, I am rapidly learning the skills and techniques necessary for an enduring career in biomedical research.”

- Nicholas McCarty

Microbiology Class of 2018

“IBA has allowed me to  put to use the knowledge I learn in class. The program further helped by introducing me to research that helped develop skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have learned in the classroom.”

-Edwin Sagastume

Biomedical Engineering Class of 2017

About the



LORI ADAMS Co-Director, Iowa Biosciences Academy Dr. Lori Adams brings to the IBA program her 17 years of biological research training experience in all of the major biomedical model organisms including yeast, mice, zebrafish, Xenopus, C. elegans, and Arabidopsis. Dr. Adams is a Lecturer in the Department of Biology and teaches three courses entitled “Communicating Research”, “Biology Honors Seminar”, and “Ways of Knowing Science”.  She also directs the Biology Honors Program and the Latham Science Engagement Initiative.   Dr. Adams is a HHMI Scientific Teaching Fellow and National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences and a NIH National Research Mentoring Network Master Facilitator.  Lastly, Lori is a mother of three, has enjoyed playing piano from the age of six, and loves to garden (when she isn’t chasing after two toddler boys!).

VINCENT ROGERS Co-Director, Iowa Biosciences Academy Dr. Vincent Rogers is a Professor in the Department of Physics. Dr. Rodgers is the director of the research group called - the Diffeomorphism and Geometry Group. The research conducted by this group spans several areas of mathematical and theoretical physics and includes the study of the nature of classical and quantum gravity, superstrings and supergravity, quantum field theories, and cosmology and the early universe. At present the group consists of five PhD students and two undergraduate students. He is also serves as a faculty co-advisor for the Society of Physics Students, co-director of the Café Scientifique of Iowa City, and co-coordinator of the Hawk-Eyes on Science – the outreach project of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.


MEGHAN ROWE-JOHNSON Assistant Director, Iowa Biosciences Academy Meaghan Rowe-Johnson is a fourth-year Counseling Psychology doctoral student in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations. She graduated with her Community Counseling Master’s degree from Loyola University Chicago and has provided clinical counseling services to adults, adolescents, and children in a variety of settings over the past five years. She is currently involved in a STEM-based career intervention program called Project HOPE (Healthcare, Occupations, Preparation, and Exploration), which is designed to introduce health science professions to minority and low socioeconomic middle school students early in their education. Additionally, she is leading a research team examining the contextual factors impacting work success for individuals experiencing homelessness.


STEVE KEHOE Administrative Services Coordinator

Program Coordinator

Steve is the Administrative Services Coordinator for the Department of Biology and Marketing Coordinator for IBA. He assists with recruiting students to IBA, updating the website, and taking photos. Steve’s background is in marketing and management and has been with the University of Iowa for over 11 years. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing and Administrative Management from Mount Mercy College and an Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration from Kirkwood Community College. He enjoys watching and playing sports and is a huge Hawkeye fan!

Brinda has been the Program Coordinator for IBA since 2013 and strives to become a subject matter expert on all things IBA. She has a BA in Biology and an MS in Environmental and Public Policy. Her background includes working as a public health officer, running a non-profit, and working in the field of higher education for the past 8 years. Brinda is a wannabe yogi, has twin girls in kindergarten and loves when 90s alternative rock bands do reunion tours.

DONALD B. YARBROUGH IBA Lead Evaluator Don Yarbrough is a Professor of Educational measurement and Statistics in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations. He is the former director of the UI Center for Evaluation and Assessment, which he founded in 1992. He has extensive experience in higher education evaluation and academic program review and served two terms as Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research in the UI College of Education. He has worked with IBA since its inception in 1999.




Advisory Board

The IBA Advisory Board meets annually to discuss progress, needs and strategic planning for the program. We are grateful for advice and input from a wide range of disciplines and experiences both internally and external to the University of Iowa.



Sarah Rasheed Ali

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

Daniel Eberl


Pamela Geyer


John Keller

Associate Provost for Graduate Education

Sarah Larsen


Colleen Mitchell


Ann Ricketts

Assis. VP for Research, Communications & External Relations

Sheila Schechinger

Senior Assistant Director, Outreach & Recruitment, UI Admissions

James Torner

Professor and Head of Department of Epidemiology

Deandrea Watkins

Multicultural Specialist, UI STEM Programs

Dan Weeks

Biochemistry, Department of Pediatrics

Sarah England

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Richard McGee

Medical Education

Michael Summers

Chemistry and Biochemistry



List of

Mentors Paul Abbas Karim Abdel-Malek E. Dale Abel Renara Almbert Don Anderson Michael Anderson Mark Arnold Jennifer McCabe-Beane David Beyer Jackie Bickenbach Gail Bishop Mark Blumberg Ariel Bohman Blaise Boles Linda Boyle Terry Braun Charles Brenner Timothy Brenza Tom Brown Azeez Butali Kevin Campbell Krishnan Chandran Joseph Comeron Robert Cornell Kennith Culp Sandra Daack-Hirsch Jason Daniel-Ulloa Warren Darling Beverly Davidson Gerene Denning Frederick Domann Jonathan Doorn Edwin Dove David Drake Michael Duffel Martine Dunnwald Adam Dupuy Daniel Eberl

The role of mentor is a very significant part of the Iowa Biosciences Academy, and the mentoring relationship between undergraduate students and faculty is critical to the development future scientists. We extend our appreciation to all faculty that have participated as research mentors to our students!

Shani Nirasha Egodwatte John Engelhardt Sarah England Albert Erives Trevor Fidler Jennifer Fiegel Michael Flatte Andrew Forbes Laurence Fuortes Sue Gardner Pamela Geyer Giudice George Julie Gros-Louis Charles Grose Janet Guthmiller Donna Hammond Kirsten Hanrahan Donald Heidstad Sarah Hengel Michael Henry Eric Hoffman Mary Horne Douglas Houston Jon Houtman Thomas Hund Julie Jessop Georgia Johnson Bradley Jones Khalid Kader Alan Kay Alan Klingelhutz Eva Klohnen Grazyna Kochanska Amnon Kohen Anne Kwitek Sarah Larsen Erika Lawrence Bridget Lear

Amy Lee Hon-chi Lee Kevin Legge Melissa Lehan Mackin Steven Lentz Andrew Lidral Robert Linhardt Vitor Lira David Lubaroff Susan Lutgendorf Vincent Magnotta Peterson Maina Melissa Marchal Ann McCarthy Laurie McCormick Michelle McQuistan Jeffery Meier Jordan Miller Peter Mohler Paul Mueller Jeffrey Murray Robert Mullins Jones Nauseef William Nauseef Maurine Neiman Peggy Nopoulos Andrew Norris Faryle Nothwehr Russell Noyes Lisa Oakes Mike O’Hara Chioma Okeoma Daniel O’Leary Horacio Olivo Henry Paulson Renata Pereira Bryan Phillips Gary Pierce

Amy Poremba David Price John Prineas Hank Qi Daniel Quinn Madhavan Raghavan Joe Reinhardt Christian Riehle Cicily Ronhovde Scott Robinson Gary Rosenthal Andrew Russo Aliasger Salem Edward Sander Heather Sander Daniel Schenck Andrew Screpf Deborah Segaloff Madeline Shea Don Sheriff Richard Shields Christine Sinkey Kathleen Sluka Sarit Smolikove Jeanne Snyder Bento Soares Greta Sokoloff David Soll John Spencer Maria Spies Douglas Spitz Mark Stamnes Jack Stapleton Stefan Strack Elizabeth Stone Fayyaz Sutterwala Daniel Tranel Budd Tucker

Kaaren Vargas Sarah Vigmostad David Wacker Lori Wallrath Dongxu Wang John Warren M. Todd Washington John Wiencek Marc Wold John Yack Mark Young Joseph Zabner Nicholas Zavazava Yuan Zhang Weihong Zhou





129 E. Jefferson Street 169 Biology Building Iowa City, IA 52242

Iowa Biosciences Academy is an NIH-funded grant program supported in part by The University of Iowa’s Office of the Vice President for Research, the Department of Biology and the Center for Diversity and Enrichment.

IBA 15-Year Anniversary Publication  

Celebrating 15 Years of IBA!

IBA 15-Year Anniversary Publication  

Celebrating 15 Years of IBA!