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Carson Broeker

Carson Broeker

SEEK Fellow – “Observation Experiment” Exhibition Team

PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Parts of the exhibition “Observation Experiment” were created by a group of doctoral students called the SEEK Fellows. The SEEK (Sharing Expertise and Exploring Knowledge) Fellowship is provided by the Michigan State University Graduate School and its purpose is to help doctoral students discover ways to communicate knowledge to broader audiences.

Learn More About Carson

Carson Broeker comes from a tiny town called Portage des Sioux, Missouri, in a pretty rural area just north of St. Louis. Carson is a doctoral student in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, but he works in a lab in the physiology department. His dissertation is focused on elucidating the mechanisms of metastasis in the HER2+ subtype of breast cancer using a combination of molecular biology, genomics, animal models, and cell culture methods.

Carson, says “observation is key to all aspects of my research. Primarily, I observe using sight to obtain information from research articles, to visualize the results of my experiments, and observe the analysis of my results, whatever shape they may take. I touch and feel the consistency of certain reagents, I feel the heat from exothermic reactions. I hear feedback and talk with colleagues to discuss results and future project directions. I smell the alcohol and bleach I use to clean equipment and countertops. I also smell a stench similar to rotten eggs when doing certain experiments due to a sulfur-containing reagent. And, disappointingly, there is not much for me to taste in my research lab—at least nothing that isn’t likely toxic.”

What interested you in working on the “Observe” exhibit at the MSU Museum?
I stumbled across the observation exhibit and SEEK Fellowship by happenstance. The goals of the exhibit, which focus on how we observe and take in the world around us, really resonated with me. Most of us likely take for granted just how much we use observation in our day to day lives. Observation is also the underpinning of the scientific method and all the research I perform as a graduate student.

What has been your favorite part of working on the exhibit?
My favorite part of the exhibit has been being able to see the extensive Natural Science collections we have here at MSU and trying to craft a narrative around these specimens. The curators of these specimens and everyone involved in this exhibit are very knowledgeable, so I've been learning a lot of history attached to the specimens as well.

What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, prior to a recent back injury, I enjoyed going to the gym to weight lift. I always appreciate playing basketball with some of the other graduate students and professors on campus, even if it is at 7 am on Fridays. Otherwise, I could be found doing various other things, such as going to the beer garden at Horrocks, travelling, playing video games, or indulging in my favorite show, which at this time is The Great British Bake Off.

What is your dream job?
My dream job is probably being a tenure track professor at a major research university. You get to lead your own research projects pursuing the questions that are most meaningful to you, while making a positive impact on society.

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