Undergraduate Researcher Draws Scientific Clues From Frog Eggs

Biomedical engineering major Colin Mitchell has been named January’s Undergraduate Research Student of the Month.

Date: 1/28/2011
By: Dama Ewbank
Phone: (513) 558-4519


American Physiological Society (APS) President President Gary Sieck, PhD (left), with Colin Mitchell.

The University of Cincinnati's Undergraduate Research Council has announced the January recipient of the Undergraduate Research Student of the Month award. Check out the Q&A with senior biomedical engineering major Colin Mitchell.

Colin Mitchell
Senior, Biomedical Engineering
Under the direction of faculty mentor Bryan Mackenzie, PhD

What undergraduate research project are you working on?
I have been applying a combination of fluorescence approaches, radiotracer assays, and electrophysiology in RNA-injected Xenopus oocytes (frog eggs) expressing ferroportin to understand how this important iron transporter functions. Ferroportin is responsible for export of iron from intestinal cells into the blood and for recycling of iron from macrophages. I also study the effects of the iron regulatory protein hepcidin on ferroportin function and expression in oocytes.

Why did you opt to do undergraduate research?
Research was the best opportunity for me to apply my academic skills in a setting where my knowledge and skills would aid in advancing the scientific community as a whole. Beyond the potential contribution to a vast web of knowledge, research allowed me to gain valuable skills for my future in academics, such as:

  • how to present novel research,
  • how to develop novel laboratory protocols, and 
  • how to design complex experiments.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?
If you stop improving you are not trying hard enough.

What advice would you give to other undergraduates thinking about getting involved in research?
Research the research you would like to research.

What’s next?
I plan on going on to graduate school after further exploring the fields of study I enjoy most; all the while, I plan on continuing my project in the Mackenzie lab.