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Vincent Barnett, PhD

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Physiology
January 21, 2016

Dr. Vincent Barnett is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. He also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies and advises students in the Physiology major. 

What attracts students to the Physiology major?

If students are interested in health science careers, the Physiology major is a great home for them. One of the reasons is that we have a curriculum that will prepare students quite well for professional schools. If they follow our program, then they don’t have to look too far and wide to get the prerequisites complete. The other thing is that even though we are science intensive, we are quite flexible. Students find that while we give them a nice core of sciences to follow, there are quite a few electives they can use to fill out their major.

What experiences can help students explore their interests and decide on a health profession?

Many of our students are involved in more than one campus group. The Undergraduate Physiology Society is one group that they’re often involved in, but there are other pre-health groups that students can participate in that are very useful. I also think that taking advantage of the advising services that are available here at the university can give students perspective, help them to set up internships, etc. Shadowing experiences can give you an idea of what it’s like to work in different healthcare fields.

How can students get involved in research at the University of Minnesota?

One of the most important things for an undergraduate to realize with respect to research is that the entire university should be open to them, as long as they have a basic skill set that the investigator is interested in. Our students do research in physiology labs, but they also do research throughout the medical school. It really depends on your interest, and that’s usually the thing I start with when a student says I would like to do research. If we can narrow down a few faculty members who are doing research in an area you are interested in, that’s the place you should start with your search for a research opportunity.

There’s a couple of things that a student can do if they’re interested in research. Their academic advisor should be able to point them to a few resources. There’s also experts.umn.edu, which allows you to put in for a search term any research area that you’re interested in. It tells you who is doing that kind of work here at the university and gives you a pointer toward some of the papers they are publishing and who they collaborate with. Then you can go in and talk to a faculty member and say I know a little bit about your work and I’d like to know more.