Evelyn Thomas is entering her fourth year as an Illinois Tech biochemistry major. Her advisor, Nick Menhart, associate professor of biology, described her as, “a very busy but very competent and capable student.” Thomas is premed, a member of Illinois Tech’s basketball team, and vice president of IIT MEDLIFE, to name of few of the things that keep her schedule packed. This summer, she added research to that list, as she worked in Menhart’s lab as one of this year’s CoS undergraduate summer research stipend winners.
According to Thomas, it was her cell biology and biochemistry classes that sparked her interest in research. Her goal is to become an orthopedic physician, so she searched for research opportunities involving the musculoskeletal system. This led her to Menhart’s lab, where research is currently underway on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a debilitating disease affecting muscles. This summer, Thomas worked to determine the role and clinical relevance of exon skipped motifs of the dystrophin rod, which is the protein defective in DMD.
Of her summer research, Thomas said, “I learned not only the cellular functions that go awry in this disease, but also patience and critical thinking skills that are needed to be an impactful researcher and future physician.”