Hunter Simpson Looks Ahead to Dental School

Biology major Hunter Simpson recently received very good news.  He scored a 90 percent on his Dental Admissions Test (DAT).  The Keen Mountain, Va., native is known for his hard work and dedication to his studies and research.  "I learned a long time ago that those characteristics can take you far in life and RU has definitely strengthened each one of them," adds Simpson.

Simpson has aspirations of becoming an oral surgeon.  But before he can reach that goal, he must be accepted to dental school.  So he is taking advantage of opportunities to enhance his resume in biology faculty member Tara Phelps-Durr's laboratory.

"The research experience will certainly strengthen his dental school application; however, Hunter doesn't seem to be doing research just to fill up his resume," adds Phelps-Durr.  "In the lab, Hunter strives to understand every experiement that we do.  This can be a difficult task for an undergraduate student because most of Hunter's project requires a variety of molecular biology techniques," she says.

Performing and understanding these types of experiements requires Simpson to visualize molecular processes that he can't see.  Simpson is involved in a project to understand how the gene that encodes HIRA, a chromatin remodeling protein, is regulated during plant development.  He has cloned the promoter region of the HIRA gene and fused it to a reporter gene.  When these are transformed into plants, the plants will turn blue wherever the HIRA promoter is functioning to transcribe the reporter gene.

"In addition to his academic excellence," says Phelps-Durr, "Hunter is a pleasure to work with.  He is very dependable and genuinely curious," adds Phelps-Durr.

Simpson says that Radford was the right place for him to explore his future goals and love of science.  "I chose Radford because of the size of the campus and the small class sizes," says Simpson.  He thinks that Radford University is "a great place to spend four years if you are looking for a truly amazing college experience.  RU has opened so many doors for me that I don't think it would be possible anywhere else," he adds.

As Simpson looks forward to finishing up his final semester, he hopes that his dedication and work ethic, in addition to his outstanding DAT score and research experience, lands him a spot in dental school.

"I have no doubt that he will excel in all of his future endeavors," adds Simpson's mentor Phelps-Durr.

Feb 7, 2012
Ann Brown