Daniel Popoola, a senior majoring in Biology at the Purdue School of Science, is an Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute Scholar (CTSI) and a McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program Scholar (McNair). Both programs are administered through the IUPUI Center for Research and Learning. “CTSI introduced me to research. As the first program that I participated in, it unveiled my potentials in the field of research. And later, the McNair program curriculum guided me through effectively planning my future. The McNair program is a career builder.”
Daniel was drawn to research by his passion to find “answers to mysteries that have no answers yet.” He loved complicated mathematical word problems in high school because of the “wow!” moment that came with the solution, and the rich conversations that followed. The solution and the conversations were always “enough compensation for the efforts put into it.” So when he heard about research opportunities at IUPUI, he scheduled an appointment with Mrs. Elizabeth Rubens of the Center for Research and Learning, and after a set of conversations he was convinced that research was something he had to pursue.
Daniel works with his mentor, Dr. Zachary Rodd, researching the effects of nicotine on alcohol-seeking behavior by microinjection directly into the brain using rat models. The clinical implication of their project is to “understand and eventually secure a pharmaco-therapeutic means of averting the negative consequences of the simultaneous consumption of nicotine and alcohol over addiction to both drugs.”
When asked what it’s been like working with his mentor, Daniel said, “Working with [Dr. Rodd] is simply an outstanding experience. Every single step of the learning process, both inside and outside the lab is always educative and entertaining.” Dr. Zachary Rodd works in the Department of Psychiatry in the Indiana University School of Medicine.
According to Daniel, undergraduate research is “very important because the learning process is never complete without it. Undergraduate research exposes students to the relevance of the knowledge learnt in class to the real world through experiential application and original problem solving. It also shows you a lot of possibilities of extending your scholarship especially to graduate school.”
Daniel presented his research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in March 2012 and at IUPUI Research Day in April 2012. He will be presenting before the United States Congress at the Posters on the Hill event at Capitol Hill, Washington DC towards the end of April 2012. “The opportunity to present my work has always been an encouragement for me that I am doing the right thing and for me to do more. It makes me feel like it was worth going the extra mile beyond normal studentship and I return with the inspiration to fire on. It also sends me back home with a lot of questions to answer and in the process broaden my knowledge and expand my research.”
Daniel will be enrolling in graduate school soon, and will ultimately enroll in an MD/PhD program at the medical school. His career goal is to become a lead physician scientist in behavioral neuroscience for the National Institutes of Health, and to travel across the globe providing hope to the hopeless.