Cody Madsen: Finding world-changing inspiration in research (student)

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Cody Madsen

Cody Madsen is a junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology from Battle Creek, Mich., and a College of Natural Science Dean’s Research Scholar.

My freshman year in 2014 brought about a new world with many opportunities, many of which were yet to be seen. A wide-eyed freshman, with a goal to make an impact as quickly as possible, stumbled through his first year trying out different opportunities in the biochemical field. It was not until September 2015 that an opportunity arose that would give inspiration and direction to my life and college career.

The opportunity was being able to begin research with Michaela TerAvest, an assistant professor who had just started in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I’d been searching for a research opportunity for several months when I was introduced to Dr. TerAvest.  After my interview, I knew I would gain experience that I wouldn’t find anywhere else by being the first lab assistant in a start-up lab. Yet, I never expected to be given my own research project and the freedom to explore my interests in her area of research.

Initially, I read up on her research about using biochemistry in biofuel production and became very interested in the field of energy. Only weeks into working on my own project in this area, I started to find excitement in applying the knowledge gained from my classes under the supervision of a brilliant professor.

This excitement grew over the next 15 months and became a motivation not only to pursue the field of biochemical energy, but to make an impact on the world in this area. The world is in imperative need for clean, renewable energy to sustain life on Earth and maintain the planet itself.

After working with Michaela for a year, I realized that the potential for using bacteria through biochemistry for energy production could be a possible way to power the future, so I began preparing myself to reach that goal. I started taking classes in different departments such as engineering and sustainability, along with taking a more active role with my research by working on a post-doctorate project to further challenge my application of this field.

In the course of one year, I’ve found direction and inspiration to change the world through applying knowledge gained in research. The world is in need of world changers who can learn from those who are forging paths to the future. I am grateful for the opportunity that working with Michaela has provided me and this research opportunity has brought the “world changer” out in me.