Student Profile - Trent Evans
Rising Junior Snags Fellowship to Jump-start His Research Career
Trent Evans found his niche in Kinesiology, partially by chance, but mostly by following a natural drive for problem-solving.
"I was floating in the biology and pre-med areas, like a lot of undergrads here," said the rising junior who supplements his academics by competing in the Wisconsin Track Club and playing recreational Ultimate Frisbee.
Evans discovered Asst. Professor Bill Schrage's exercise physiology lab when he was preparing an independent project for his Biology 152 class. The project required him to research and choose a scientific laboratory and, after visiting several labs across campus, he found a great match between his developing interest in exercise science Schrage's research – understanding control of blood flow to muscles during exercise.
Evans declared Kinesiology as his major soon after and continued to find ways to work with Schrage including a paid fellowship this summer to help Schrage's research team with an American Federation for Aging Research project entitled Aging and the Red Blood Cell: Linking Endothelial and Exercise Dysfunction.
Since research grants usually don't include funding for undergraduate student assistants and Evans didn't want to pass up the chance to be part of the project team, he applied for and received a highly-competitive American Physiologic Society Summer Research Fellowship. In addition to a $4,000 stipend for 10 weeks of research, the fellowship includes travel expenses to present findings at the Experimental Biology meeting in the spring.
Evans' primary responsibility for the project was measuring the release of a compound called adenosine 5-triphosphate, or ATP, from red blood cells during exercise in senior citizens and young adults and comparing the results.
ATP matches blood flow to muscle areas that need more oxygen, especially during stressful activity such as exercise. Scientists still know very little about ATP but Evans said that with more information, it may be a solution to improving blood flow and reducing heart strain in seniors.
"Getting to know the research process and what it's all about is really interesting," said Evans, who is now inspired to look into a career as a research professor.
"I haven't ruled out med school, PT school or PA school yet," he said. "With anything in medicine, you know it's going to be useful."
Evans hopes to stay on for the coming school year and, if the data works out, he will have a (good) poster to present at the experimental biology meeting, he said.
"You definitely get personal satisfaction when the data works out," Evans said. "When I finally get the data, I'll feel like the summer has been worth it."
One of Evans' favorite quotes is actually the opposite of the old saying, "an hour in the library can save you a week in the lab." Evans prefers the empirical approach – "A day in the lab is better than an hour in the library."
Evans, bottom right, helps take measurements during an oxygen and blood flow test.