Skip to Navigation Skip to Page Content

Undergraduate research leads bioengineer to prestigious summer program

Gebken in a red flannel shirt stands behind a ledge.

Sophomore bioengineering major Sarah Gebken recently was accepted to a 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates program at prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Photo by Ryan Owens.

What did you do this summer?

It’s a frequent question for students of all ages from those curious about what they spent their time doing during their time away from school. Mizzou sophomore bioengineering major Sarah Gebken’s answer is sure to be among the more impressive come next fall.

Gebken recently was accepted to a 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates program at prestigious Johns Hopkins University, and she’ll be spending her summer in Baltimore working in the classroom and the lab on a cutting-edge bioengineering project.

“I’m hoping to do something with possibly gene therapy or maybe biomaterials,” Gebken said when asked about her area of emphasis.

The St. Louis native has plans to do life-long research, either in a lab in the private sector or as a faculty member at a university. What drew her to applying for summer programs such as the Johns Hopkins REU was figuring out exactly what she wants that research to focus on.

“Part of what I’m trying to get out of this summer is whether or not I want to put my emphasis on biomedical engineering or bioprocess, so doing an REU with any university for biomedical research is really exciting,” Gebken explained.

The research bug bit Gebken early. She took advantage of MU’s robust undergraduate research opportunities and interdisciplinary capabilities and began working in the lab of biological sciences Professor Chris Pires, whom she credits for helping her get on track in terms of research skills and study habits early on in her college career.

She said she enjoys working in Pires’ lab, which focuses on plant science, but her ultimate goal is to land in a field where she can help improve the health and well-being of humans.

“I like it a lot, just the idea of helping others through it,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be able to work with people.”