Anthony Baker has big dreams to one day design spacesuits for NASA.
He knows experience is critical to making that dream come true.
This summer Baker, an exercise science and psychology major from Falls City, Neb., was accepted to the University of Minnesota’s Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP) where he conducted research for the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
“My goal is to do research as a career,” said Baker. “I attended conferences throughout the year that gave me contact information for summer research programs.”
Baker was particularly intrigued by the University of Minnesota’s program for its career-building opportunities outside of the lab. He was able to connect with professionals in the field and network with several graduate programs.
Baker arrived each day at the Minneapolis campus where he focused on developing new technology for 3D printing. He created and conducted new experiments, educated himself on the various topics surrounding each experiment, and prepared papers and presentations to showcase his finding.
Baker learned many valuable lessons from his experience but one stood out: creativity is important in your work.
“It is easy to settle and come to work every day and do what you have to and leave,” he said. “But bringing creativity into your work and always wanting to do something new and progressive helps you be more passionate about what you’re working on.”
Baker designed and conducted approximately 50 new experiments during his time at the University of Minnesota.
Putting his NWU education into practice, Baker combined his basic lab skills, creativity, and critical thinking into his work and immediately found some core differences between the labs of Nebraska Wesleyan and a professional lab environment.
“The biggest difference between the classroom setting and real-world lab research is your ability to bring all your various knowledge together along with your creativity,” he said. “Often in classroom settings, you are doing something that has already been accomplished, and you have a known outcome you are trying to achieve. When you are working on real experimental work, you must use what you already know and your creativity to find new ways to solve problems where you do not know what the outcome will be.”
His experience provided him with new connections throughout the country as he prepares for graduate school and a career. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biotechnological engineering with hopes of one day conducting research at NASA.
“NASA has always been a place I’ve wanted my career to lead to,” he said. “The history and reputation of what NASA has done and continues to do is incredible, along with the rise of companies like SpaceX. Specifically, I’d like to work on making technology in space suits more interactive with the astronauts themselves.”
—Story by Danielle Anderson