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Meet Courtney Colench: Our March Leading Woman

Name: Courtney Colench

Major: Biological Sciences (minors in Chemistry and Mathematics!)

Hometown: Rolla, Missouri

What are your career/life goals? My most upcoming goal is to finish my undergraduate degree and pursue medical school. I have always been drawn to science because it explains the “why” behind the “what”; but, as I have continued to develop in college, I have also found myself being drawn toward education. I cannot imagine a better way to merge these two passions than in becoming a physician, where I would have the opportunity to guide patients in understanding the science occurring within them. Eventually after getting my doctorate, I hope to lead clinical research that improves patient outcomes and comfort.

What is your favorite part about Biology? / Tell us about why you chose your major? Entering my freshman year, I was declared as Biomedical Engineering. Having always had an aptitude towards math and a love of problem solving, I had thought that engineering would be the perfect way to fuse these together. However, upon taking more biologically-geared courses like Genetics and Cell Biology, I found that my admiration for biology beat out my admiration for math. So, upon entering my junior year, I redeclared as Biology! It was only recently that I was able to land my finger on the degree that I will graduate with - and I am so happy to say that this is the perfect fit for me. I truly look forward to my classes, and have gained an appreciation for all the intricacies that come with seemingly simple ideas.

Why did you decide to get involved in research at Mizzou? I joined my research lab during October of my freshman year a little after I read about the Biology professors and their respective research. Upon browsing the muscle focus of the Cornelison Lab and watching time lapse videos of cell development, I felt compelled to email Dr. Cornelison and ask if she had room for undergraduate students - and luckily, she did! Ever since then, I have studied eph/Ephrin proteins specific to muscle and vascular regeneration using muscle harvest, cryosectioning, and immunohistochemistry methods. I believe research is crucially important in developing an understanding of how our world works, and with that, I love being able to contribute to science while being a part of the lab.

What is your favorite part about your research lab? As of this year, I undertook an independent project aimed to generate a primary mouse co-culture that will serve as a 3D model of cell signaling during homeostasis and regeneration. This process has allowed me to gain an understanding of the diligence it takes to begin something never done before; troubleshooting, critical thinking and problem solving have become commonalities as I work to overcome new hurdles that present themselves. I love having the opportunity to think outside the box to create solutions, and then watching the outcomes of these solutions. Aside from this however, my favorite part is the people that I get to work with. Without having been a part of the lab, I don’t think I would be the same person answering this question today; they have challenged me to grow not only intellectually, but interpersonally. I am forever grateful to collaborate with them at my sides!

What organizations or hobbies are you passionate about? I really enjoy getting to play around with my camera. It is such a mind-blowing concept that a camera can capture a moment of life, and I love configuring an image to best portray that moment. Between taking pictures of my brother at his basketball games or self-timer shots of me and my friends eating pizza on the quad, being able to look back at an image and have a memory triggered is really heartwarming.

How have your experiences in Theta changed you? One thing that I think has been really special about Theta is just how much each woman in this chapter displays our values. My favorite value, personal excellence, can be seen in so many of my peers - and it really is inspiring to be surrounded by a house of go-getters. Women in this chapter have motivated me to venture out of my comfort zone, and to challenge what my full potential can be.

What does Theta mean to you? Theta is passionate, authentic, endearing, and uplifting; a place and people who are welcoming of personal growth and encourage striving for excellence.

Do you have a specific favorite Theta memory? My favorite times at Theta is when my roommate, Emily, and I goof around in our room. Whether we are being crafty and painting kites for bid day, or cleaning up glass from our shattered string lights (I blame gravity), Emily knows how to brighten my day. I think when I’m older and look back at times in Theta, my fondest memories will be with her as my roommate.


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