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Honors Spotlight Star: Kenyon Sprankle

Kenyon Sprankle participates in Dr. Kolwicz’s research investigating “Aging and Sex Differences in C57BL/6NCrl Mice Fed the Ketogenic Diet.”

1. Whose lab are you in?

  • Dr. Stephen Kolwicz

2. What is the title of your research?

  • Aging and Sex Differences in C57BL/6NCrl Mice Fed the Ketogenic Diet

3. Give a brief summary of your research.

  • The research I do in the Heart and Muscle Metabolism lab focuses on the ketogenic diet and how it affects C57BL/6NCrl mice differently based on their sex (male vs. female) and age (3 months old vs. 6 months old). We feed the mice either a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet or a standard chow diet over a six week period and monitor their change in body weight, physical fitness and other attributes throughout this time. After this six week period we remove the tissues and perform biochemical assays to see how the ketogenic diet affected their triglyceride, glycogen and cholesterol levels compared to the mice fed the standard chow diet.

4. What was your motive for joining a research lab?

  • I decided to join a research lab because many of my peers had started getting involved in research and said what an amazing learning experience it was. This prompted me to reach out to Dr. Kolwicz and see if he had space in his laboratory for me to join.

5. How has participating in research affected your college experience?

  • Becoming involved in research has been the highlight of my time here at Ursinus. I can see a direct correlation between joining the HaMM lab and my scholastic successes. Having a mentor and a group of motivated individuals who you are able to spend time around each week solving problems and doing lab work is an invaluable experience and prepares you for the demanding coursework you will be involved in here.

6. What has been the highlight of your research?

  • The highlight of my research has been its dynamic nature. We began thinking about my project almost two years ago and since that time it has evolved and changed as the study has progressed. It originally began as dietary research in relation to physical fitness, and has evolved to encompass aging and sex difference which has been fascinating to explore. This has allowed me to think critically about the work I do and also have an active role in deciding where my study goes which I feel is a very unique and valuable experience in undergrad.

7. What are your future plans for after graduation?

  • I will be continuing my education at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in the summer of 2022.

8. Any words of wisdom for prospective future researchers?

  • If you are interested in or are currently involved in research I think the best thing you can do is to work hard and participate in as much as possible when in the lab. If you are able to work on multiple projects you will get a tremendous amount of exposure to laboratory techniques and may begin to find topics you are interested in creating your own project for.

9. Are there any fellow researchers or mentors you would like to thank?

  • I would love to thank Dr. Kolwicz for not only being an amazing professor and PI but also for being a caring mentor. He has helped me throughout my time at Ursinus and was fundamental in completing my applications to medical school. It’s been an honor to work in his lab for the last 2 years and has really made my time at Ursinus amazing. I would also like to thank Mya Knappenberger. She has worked with me in the HaMM lab for the last year and throughout the summer during Summer Fellows. She has been a driven and hardworking partner on my project and on her own project and has been incredibly important in the success of our research.

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