Southeast Biomedical Student Shares Research Experiences with Board of Regents


Southeast Missouri State University senior Andrew Behrmann, told the University’s Board of Regents today that Southeast’s programs and faculty have given him the professional experiences, knowledge and leadership skills for launching his career.

Behrmann, a senior biomedical sciences and chemistry double major with a minor in physics from Belleville, Illinois, said Southeast provided the undergraduate research opportunities he needed to prepare for medical school.

“Conducting research gave me a sense of which medical programs I am interested in applying to as well as specialties I am considering after my training,” he said. “I’ve worked in a wide range of labs on campus, which has prepared me for the research I want to do in medical school.”

Behrmann was inspired to get involved in research after attending the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference as a member of Southeast’s Psychology Club.

“Going to that conference and seeing undergraduate research and talking to graduate and medical schools is what got me interested in doing research. When I came back to Southeast the following semester, I was in a physics class with Dr. Shamik Bhattacharya (associate professor of engineering), who suggested that I stop by his office if I was interested in research. I started working with him on a couple of different projects that look at the tissue mechanics of heart valves in a procedure called a tricuspid annuloplasty.”

All of Behrmann’s research was conducted in labs on Southeast’s campus, and he’s been able to conduct research on cardiac tissue mechanics, nano-bioengineering, x-ray crystallography and genetics.

He currently is serving as the lead research assistant in his Cardiovascular Tissue Mechanics Laboratory with Dr. Bhattacharya, but he has also served as a research assistant in labs involving Nano-Bioengineering, X-Ray Crystallography, and D. melanogaster genetics.

For Behrmann, one of the highlights was the opportunity to present his tricuspid heart valve research at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in October 2019 with his research partner Southeast student Kate Appleman.

All these opportunities were provided to him by Southeast faculty.

“Which is why it is important we support the faculty who offer their students these types of opportunities,” he said.

In addition to working with Bhattacharya, Behrmann said that building relationships with faculty like Dr. Jonathan Kessler, assistant professor of chemistry and physics, Dr. Diane Wood, professor of biology, and Dr. James Champine, chair of the Department of Biology, have all helped him to become a better student and navigate the process of applying to medical school.

“Dr. Kessler and Dr. Champine have always been open to answering my questions whenever I stop by their offices,” said Behrmann. “Dr. Wood really helped me develop study skills and a curiosity for what I’m learning. I would not be the student I am today without her help. It meant a lot that she was so excited to write me a letter of recommendation to medical school because she is a big reason that I pursued the biomedical sciences major in the first place.”

Southeast has also provided him opportunities for personal growth and leadership experiences. As a freshmen, he joined Theta Xi Fraternity and served as its president last year. He is currently serving as the vice president for education for Southeast’s Interfraternity Council.

“Joining Greek Life really helped me out as a student and as a leader,” said Behrmann.

Behrmann was also inspired to help and support his fellow students as a tutor for Southeast’s Tutorial Services, where is he’s provided tutoring for anatomy, chemistry and psychology. He currently serves as a Senior Learning Assistant, overseeing tutorial observations as well as helping newly hired learning assistants get acquainted with the program.

“Southeast has a really good tutorial services program,” he said. “The quality of tutoring we’re able to provide to students for free doesn’t happen at many universities. It offers development for its tutors and the students who utilize the services.”

Behrmann’s leadership experiences made him an excellent addition to the 2019 class of the President’s Leadership Academy, a selective learning experience for Southeast’s most outstanding upperclassmen leaders. As part of the President’s Leadership Academy, Behrman helped build a mentoring program for students in Southeast’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“The other members of the President’s Leadership Academy were great. We paired successful upperclassmen with freshmen or transfer students of the same major. We set up meetings and gave them a small agenda to go over things like signing up for classes and doing well in courses.”

In recognition of his outstanding leadership, involvement and academic performance, Behrmann was awarded the President’s Spirit of Southeast Award.

“Winning the Spirit of Southeast Award was big for me,” said Behrmann. “It was very humbling. I felt very honored to be recognized for all that I have done as a student.”

Behrmann plans to graduate from Southeast in December, plans complete his research before attending medical school in fall 2021.