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Houser makes scientific strides

Jennifer Houser took part in a project to research a drug that could prevent Parkinson’s Disease at a cellular level. Photo via Jennifer Houser.

By coming up with medical solutions, Jennifer Houser, a senior biomedical major is wasting no time getting started with her career.

After seeing there was a crisis in drug resistance, Houser began an 18-month long project that started her freshman year. The project consisted of figuring out if a cholesterol lowering drug called Simvastaun could prevent Parkinson’s Disease at a cellular level.

As a sophomore, Houser presented her research to the Illinois State Academy of Science Conference, a conference for graduate and undergraduate students to present scientific research for competitive grants. Here, Houser placed second in the cellular and molecular division.

Her current project includes synthesizing a new antibiotic, which she also presented at the conference as a junior and placed first in the microbiology division.

Placing in this conference is rare for a sophomore and a junior. Houser competed against 50 other presenters who were mostly seniors and graduate students.

The dedication to her studies can be accredited to her longtime love for neurology.

“I think the brain is fascinating, there is still so much that is unknown about it and it’s in our own bodies which is crazy to me,” Houser said.

Her interest in the brain is what inspired her first research project which focused on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Houser said she could not have gotten this far on her own though. She has worked with Bradley chemistry chair Chad Andersh and biology professor, Naomi Stover, both of whom have coached her examinations.

“To have the chair of the department come up … to you and problem-solve the issues with you within your own research project with you, it is a very unique and humbling experience to work with that,” Houser said.

Learning lab techniques as well as working side-by-side with both instructors has proven beneficial to both parties.

“Jenny is a fantastic person to work with, and I’m so pleased to have her in the lab for her senior year,” Stover said. “That commitment, along with her skills, give me the confidence to push my research into challenging new areas, which will benefit my lab and the university long after she’s moved on to medical school.”

While Houser takes her career seriously, she said she also finds time to be a “regular college student.”

She serves as a leadership executive chair for Bradley Fellows, where she runs group leadership expos weekly and for the entire campus annually. Houser also works as a tour guide for the Admissions Office and when there is time, she enjoys swimming.

Even though she has accomplished so much already, Houser still has many hopes for her medical career. Undecided about her exact concentration, she has narrowed her possibilities to neurology, clinical trials-based research or hospital medicine.

In the meantime, Houser is applying for medical school with every intention to find answers to the issues facing the world of medicine.

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