Brian Mogen has been doing research on campus his entire college career. The son of two PhD researchers, Brian quickly found research opportunities as soon as he arrived on campus. “I sent out an E-mail to a bunch of professors saying, ‘I don’t really have any experience, but I want to learn and volunteer,’” says Mogen. “I just tried to show that I was interested and dedicated.”
Mogen has found research opportunities at several different labs on campus. Since his freshman year, he has worked with Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Justin Williams in his Neural Interface Technology, Research and Optimization (NITRO) Laboratory. In the NITRO Lab, Mogen has participated in groundbreaking and unique research. “I’m doing research with neurons and their responses to direct current electricity,” he says. “As far as I know, I’m the only person doing this type of research in the country.”
In addition to his research with Williams, Mogen also works with several other labs on campus. He is currently working with Anatomy Assistant Professor Erik Dent, Comparative Biosciences Associate Professor Stephen Johnson and Anatomy Associate Professor Tim Gomez on various projects. Mogen’s research in these labs has spanned a wide range of interests but have all been focused in the field of microfluidics: dealing with the flow and manipulation of fluids at a very small scale. “I like working with microfluidics because it is such an interesting field of science,” he says. “It can be applied to a lot of different fields, and it is starting to become very important in cellular research.”
The experience Mogen has gained in the lab, however, goes far beyond neurons and electric currents. “The real world experience has been invaluable. I’ve had the opportunity to write and publish papers and give presentations to a lot of important researchers,” says Brian.
Mogen recently traveled to the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to attend and present at the 2009 Biomedical Engineering Society annual meeting. “The networking opportunities are fantastic, and I’m learning things you can’t teach in a classroom,” he says. “I’m really lucky to have this opportunity as an undergraduate.”
He has been working in the NITRO Lab with Williams for the past four years. “It’s really interesting to be in a lab as long as, or longer than, some of the graduate students,” says Mogen. “It kind of removes that notion that your TA’s and teachers are big scary people. We all have a lot of respect for each other.”
With all of his experience, Mogen is full of advice for students looking to get into a research group. “Find a group that you’re actually interested in because it will make the work so much more worthwhile,” he says. “And be willing to work for free … at least at first.”