McNair Scholar Lindsey Miles explores the School’s SMPRL

Third-year undergraduate student Lindsey Miles, has spent her summer working in the basement of the RecWell Center next to Cooke Hall with members of the Skeletal Muscle Plasticity and Regeneration Laboratory (SMPRL), directed by School of Kinesiology assistant professor Sarah Greising, PhD. Miles, studying exercise physiology at St. Scholastica in Duluth, is a current McNair Scholar, a federal program that prepares undergraduate students for entry into doctoral programs through research and community engagement. The McNair Scholars Program selects academically driven applicants who are first-generation college students with financial need, or are a member of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in hopes of increasing graduate degree awards. 

Miles, a first-gen student herself, understands the significance of the McNair Program, as well as the struggles that accompany applying and paying for higher education pursuits. 

“Coming from where I have, it was difficult to navigate the university system, but I was encouraged to apply to the McNair program by faculty and staff at St. Scholastica.” 

Throughout the school year, Miles has weekly check-ins with her McNair Scholars Program advisers and peers, and she is required to make two major conference presentations related to her current research projects. 

In collaboration with the School’s SMPRL research endeavors, Miles delved into learning more about volumetric muscle loss of skeletal muscle and loss of function after traumatic injuries. Miles investigated alternative regenerative medicine strategies using gene therapy, such as modified mmRNA, with biomedical engineering methods, such as aligned collagen scaffolds. This approach could lead to a transformation in both muscle fiber and vascular regeneration.

On Tuesday, July 30, Miles hopped on a plane to the 2019 National McNair Conference held at the University of California, Los Angeles. At the 3-day conference, Miles presented her research poster, “Acute Vascular Changes After Volumetric Muscle Loss Injury,” to over 300 event attendees.

“This is an invaluable opportunity to expand my presentation skills, build thoughtful research questions and my professional network.”

When she returns, Miles will head back to St. Scholastica to finish her degree and begin preparing for graduate school. 

My dream program is the U of M Medical School’s Doctor of Physical Therapy, and that’s why I chose to work with SMPRL for my research project,” Miles said. Post-graduation, she would like to gain clinical experience while preparing for a career in physical therapy and education. When asked what level Miles would like to teach, she answered “I really love college students. Everyone is dedicated and there for a reason. And having the supplementary clinical experience like many of my current professors makes learning so much fun.” 

You may see Miles as a graduate student—or faculty member—on our very own campus one daydoing what she loves! 

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