Childhood disease gains a new investigator

Drake University student credits SPUR program for genetic research experience

Sanford Research SPUR student sits with a mircoscope and computer at a lab table.

If you ask Morgan Seffrood what she wanted to do for a career, her answer always involved science in one way or another.

But, the SPUR, or Sanford Program for Undergraduate Research, enrollee and soon-to-be senior at Drake University wasn’t so sure about research.

It might sound like a contradiction, but the more she learned, the less she knew.

Answers leading to questions

As she took more classes, she couldn’t help but want to learn more, saying, “there’s a lot more unknown than there is known.”

“The really interesting thing is that there’s always something else to learn about. And that’s the main goal of research. To figure something out that no one else knows yet,” she explained.

This curiosity and desire to learn more was the catalyst to her applying for the SPUR program.

The uniqueness of the SPUR program is the reason she applied.

“The program has a direct connection with Sanford Health, so we get to work more directly with clinicians and see the clinical aspects of the research. That’s what was really interesting for me because I’m interested in medical research.

What have you learned?

She’s always had a desire to learn more, and that’s been filled throughout the SPUR program.

She’s an understudy in Dr. Lance Lee’s research lab. Dr. Lee’s program is devoted to understanding how motile cilia function and how dysfunction results in pediatric disease.

Seffrood’s project is to knock down motile cilia genes and study the effect of knocked-down genes have on cilia structure.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said.

Team-based atmosphere

Sure, she’s been able to fill her love of learning. But, her favorite aspects of the SPUR program? The connections she’s made and support she’s felt.

“It’s very team-based at Sanford. I think from the research I’ve done thus far before Sanford, it was definitely more independent. I think at Sanford I’ve found that you don’t feel like you’re just working in your own lab. There’s a lot more people you talk to and work with, and develop connections with. This also makes Sanford and the SPUR program a great environment,” she said.

What’s next?

Seffrood said she’s planning on graduate school after she’s completed her undergraduate degree.

She’s hoping to get a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Learn more

Posted In Research, Sanford Stories, Undergrad College Resources

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