2012 graduate to pursue career in biomedical research

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    Tim Hines and Dr. Mark Zrull in a psychology laboratory inside Rankin Science Buidling.

Psychology major Tim Hines will start a doctoral program in biomedical sciences this fall at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Twice he has presented research at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research – an honor not many students achieve – and he says those experience made him more confident about his research and its significance.

“I want to get my Ph.D. and do research as my career, so these experiences help quite a bit,” said the 2012 Appalachian State University graduate. “I love learning. The research helps me understand the material better because you have to think critically and know how things interact with each other.”

During his junior and senior years, Hines worked with Dr. Mark Zrull toward understanding how enrichment can help in seizure therapy of rats. His most recent research project compared the exploratory behavior of two groups: rats whose lives were enriched by toys and the company of other rats, and those kept alone except for five minutes of handling by students.

“The enriched rats show more exploratory behavior, which shows certain parts of the medial prefrontal cortex are activated. So, we’re thinking that that area of the brain is related to fear response. The rats enriched by other rats and toys have less fear,” said Hines, who is from Fayetteville.

Hines said the undergraduate research experiences helped him “appreciate the course material better because the professor is a person with common interests and not just some person lecturing to me.”

“I like to get students started on a project and then set them free to explore,” Zrull said of his mentoring style. One of Appalachian’s earliest advocates of undergraduate research, Zrull pushed to have Appalachian adopt undergraduate research as an institution-wide focus.

In addition to twice presenting at NCUR, Hines also presented research at the Symposium for Young Neuroscientists and Professors of the Southeast (SYNAPSE) conference at Wake Forest University in Spring 2011.

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