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Collaboration leads to a promising career for this Evangel science grad

March 12, 2012 | Chase Replogle

One never knows what the spark will be that leads a student to a passion and a career.

For one Evangel University biology grad, it was a guest lecturer who presented the opportunity to do real-world research on a project with his lab in Kansas City.

Derek Logsdon now manages the lab for that speaker — Dr. Robert White, professor of molecular biology/medical genetics at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

Logsdon first met Dr. White during his junior year when White’s lab at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City collaborated with Evangel on a muscular dystrophy project.

That project led to an internship for Logsdon, following graduation in 2008, and a full-time job as a research assistant three months later.

“This is the way a collaborative project should work,” says Dr. Michael Tenneson, professor of biology at Evangel. “That project led to several of our students deciding to pursue careers in research.”

“Derek actually discovered his passion for research during that time. He’s very fortunate to have been mentored by Dr. White for the past four years,” Tenneson says.

A 2008 graduate of Evangel, Logsdon holds the title of research assistant at KCUMB. There, he has also gained teaching experience. He trains medical students to work independently on his laboratory’s research projects, and he assists with teaching hematology labs in the College of Medicine and research methodologies labs in the College of Biosciences.

“While the exposure to the field of genetics in my undergraduate courses first caught my interest, I have since become immersed in a field that allows my love of life and learning to flourish,” said Logsdon.

“The highlight of my day is the moment I learn something new that has never been known before,” he says. “Nothing besides research offers the academic thrill I seek.”

Guest lecturer Dr. Robert White meets with Evangel students following the class on career opportunities that he and Derek Logsdon presented.

Guest lecturer Dr. Robert White meets with Evangel students following the class on career opportunities that he and Derek Logsdon presented.

A strong writer, Derek honed his skills during his senior year at Evangel by editing his fellow students’ projects at The Write Place. Since graduating, he has collaborated on four published works and has four more currently in preparation for scientific journals.

Last December, he was co-presenter on his lab’s research at the American Society of Hematology 53rd Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

After four years of real-world experience, Logsdon now feels ready for the next step. “An analogy I often use is that I feel I have become a good cook, and so I would like to learn the ways of the chef.”

Logsdon has been awarded a full-ride scholarship for a Ph.D. program at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. He starts in August (2012).

“I have truly been blessed,” Logsdon says. “My life, my career, my family and friends, my promising future — all have come my way by His hand. To God be the glory.”

Dr. White’s connection to Evangel

Dr. White earned his Ph.D. from Boston College and served as a fellow in pediatric research for four years at Harvard Medical School. For17 years, he directed a genetics-research program at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and then joined KCUMB in 2010.

It was during his time at Harvard that he met his wife, 1977 Evangel graduate Kathy Lawless.

Upon hearing of the option to move to Kansas City, Kathy’s first comment was, “Great, that means we get to go to Homecoming at Evangel every year.”

After a couple of Homecoming visits, Dr. White asked if Evangel’s Department of Science and Technology would like to have him as a guest lecturer.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

CAPTION: Derek Logsdon returned to Evangel’s campus in the Spring of 2012 to talk with science majors about careers in research. With him are Dr. Robert White; Dr. Glenner Richards, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Michael Tenneson, Derek’s academic advisor. Derek has earned a full-ride scholarship for a Ph.D. program at Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis.

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