Since the publication of our interview with him last year, undergraduate researcher Benjamin Kirk has continued to work ahead of the curve, attending, presenting, and winning poster awards at the 2020 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and at the 2019 American Society for Cell Biology/European Molecular Biology Organization Meeting.
Most recently, Kirk received the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award from the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates. Kirk, a member of the Abel Lab, will also receive a $1,000 travel award, which he intends to use to attend either the 2020 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Conference or the 2020 American Society for Cell Biology Conference.
“Receiving this award helped me realize that all of my hours spent in lab over the past year and a half have not gone unrecognized,” Kirk said. “It’s often easy to get so caught up in protocols and data that we don’t realize the full extent of our efforts. Understanding that each and every minute of time that I have spent in Dr. Abel’s lab has culminated into this award is a great feeling.”
Kirk credits his mentors, E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, and Antentor O. Hinton Jr., PhD, (himself a winner of a mentoring award) for the graduate-level experiences he’s been able to attain while still just at the beginning of his medical education. Although juggling class work and lab work can be daunting, Kirk says all the late nights in the lab and publications he has worked on are worth the busy schedule.
“I’ve come to recognize how vital this has been to my journey as a student,” Kirk said. “Winning this award reaffirms not only my achievements in the lab, but how dedicated both Dr. Abel and Dr. Hinton are to training the next generation of great scientists. I am truly honored to be mentored by both of these outstanding doctors.”
Kirk will be recognized at the Office of the Vice President for Research’s annual Celebrating Excellence: The UI Discovery Innovation Awards Ceremony on April 28.