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 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)   3-Minute Listen

As a member of the Truman State University Alumni, Kevin Haworth looks back at his undergraduate research experience in this podcast. As Goldwater Scholar Kevin shares his journey to Internal Medicine.

Kevin fell in love with Physics in High School. Space intrigued him to the extent that he entertained thoughts of being an astronaut. But above all, he loved teaching.  So, when time came for college, Kevin looked for schools that would help him be a High School Physics Teacher.

Today, he is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. High School Interests
  2. Choosing Truman State University
  3. UG Research Impact
  4. The Goldwater Scholarship
  5. Research Skills Gained

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Prof. Kevin Haworth of University of Cincinnati: Physics to Internal Medicine, Goldwater Scholar, and UG Research in Photonic Crystals.

Kevin fell in love with Physics in High School. Space intrigued him to the extent that he entertained thoughts of being an astronaut. But above all, he loved teaching.  So, when time came for college, Kevin looked for schools that would help him be a High School Physics Teacher.

Today, he is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

Kevin  joins our podcast to share his undergraduate college journey, his UG Research in Physics at Truman State University, Winning the Goldwater Scholarship, Road to Internal Medicine, and his Advice for high schoolers.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Overall Undergraduate Experience
  • UG Research
  • The Goldwater Scholarship
  • Physics Major to Internal Medicine
  • Advice to High Schoolers

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Prof. Kevin Haworth, U of Cincinnati [0:51]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:59]
  • High School Interests [4:52]
  • Choosing Truman State University [7:43]
  • Transition to Truman State [10:50]
  • UG Research Impact [16:36]
  • Applying for Goldwater Scholarship [19:07]
  • Why the Application Stood Out? [21:46]
  • The Goldwater Scholarship Difference [26:11]
  • Grad School to Study Applied Physics [31:05]
  • Research Skills Gained [38:30]
  • Skills for High Schoolers [42:04]
  • Memories [45:32]

Our Guests: Kevin Haworth is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. Kevin is a graduate of Truman State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. He is the recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He received his Masters and Doctorate in Applied Physics from the University of Michigan. Subsequently he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cincinnati.

Memorable Quote: “..Sometimes I think maybe the reviewer had misread my application, or had it mixed up with somebody else.” Kevin Haworth on winning the Goldwater Scholarship.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

Similar Episodes: College Experiences , UG Research

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Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Kevin H  0:15

And I think probably a couple of things stood out. One was that really fortuitous experience I had as a high schooler where I was able to send multiple experiments up on the space shuttle as part of a team. So I'm, I'm sure that that stood out to the individuals that were reading it. I think the other thing you know, in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense, but I didn't really realize it at the time was that you know, I started research then effectively is roughly a sophomore in high school.

Venkat  0:51  [Introduction to Prof. Kevin Haworth, U of Cincinnati]

That is Kevin Haworth, Goldwater Scholar, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

Hello! I am your host Venkat Raman.

Kevin fell in love with Physics in High School.

Space intrigued him.

He could see himself as an astronaut.

He loved teaching.

When time came for college, he looked for schools that would help him be a High School Physics Teacher.

Venkat Raman 1:26

Kevin  joins our podcast to share his undergraduate college journey, his UG Research in Physics at Truman State University, Winning the Goldwater Scholarship, Road to Internal Medicine, and his Advice for high schoolers.

Venkat Raman  1:44

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Kevin H  1:59  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[High School Interests]

I mean, even before high school, I was one of those kids that grew up just loving science. I didn't necessarily at that time, I didn't come from a family of scientists or anything. I did come from well supported family. But I didn't come with any background of that. And so I just kind of knew that I liked it. The natural world was just really interesting to me. And so when I got to high school, I was really looking forward to my science classes.

[Choosing Truman State University]

I wanted to I wanted to be a high school physics teacher. And so I really looked at schools from that angle. And in that process of doing that stumbled, and it really was kind of stumbling upon Truman State University. And one of the things that that caught me that they offered a master's of education degree. If you took one more year after you receive your Bachelor's.

[UG Research Impact]

I would say probably the most profound impact. And it really, the research was partnered with the courses that I was taking in physics. But it convinced me that I wanted to do more physics. And so I actually changed my career path. And instead of wanting to be a high school physics teacher, I wanted to be a liberal arts physics professor.

 

[The Goldwater Scholarship]

I do think that it gave me when I received the notification award. I think it gave me a sense of external validation that, Hey, maybe I do have the chops to be able to do and to perhaps then open myself up a little bit more to that transition from being you know, a high school physics teacher to being a college professor.

[Research Skills Gained]

Passion is critical to doing research. More often than not, you fail in research. You come up with hypothesis, you go to test and either it's flat out wrong, or a little bit so muddy that you can't really tell what wasn't wrong or wasn't right. It's not really clear. And when you're doing cutting edge things, you're at the boundary of knowledge. And so it's unsurprising that we stumble a lot when we're at a boundary.

Venkat Raman  4:19

These were the Hi5s, brought to you by College Matters. Alma Matters.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Venkat Raman  4:31

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Kevin.

So without further ado, here is Prof. Kevin Haworth!

----------------------

Venkat Raman  4:40  

 Maybe the best place to start might be your high school. What kind of interests you had and both inside and outside the classroom and then we can go from there?

Kevin H  4:52  [High School Interests]

Sure. Yeah. Um, so I mean, even before high school, I was one of those kids that grew up just loving science. I do didn't necessarily at the time, it didn't come from a family of scientists or anything. I didn't come from well supported family. But it didn't come with any background of that. And so I just kind of knew that I liked it, the natural world was just really interesting to me. And so when I got to high school, I was really looking forward to my science classes. I took the biology and I liked it, but I was like, I don't know if this is quite for me. And then I took chemistry after that. And I was like, Ooh, boy, that's a lot of memorization. I'm not terribly good at that. And then landed my junior year in physics, and absolutely fell in love with it. And so that was really, you know, the spark and be honest, I was going into that I was a little worried, because I was like, Oh, I'm going to be a scientist. But if I, in how am I going to be a scientist, so it was, it was great to have that experience. And a big part of that, of course, was the teachers that I had. That really, you know, that really had a big impact on me. In that process, I would also say that, in terms of, you know, my interest, I also was always interested in space, you know, my dreams, a little kid. And I'd say maybe even today, with some of the opportunities out there was to be an astronaut. And I was really lucky that at the high school, I was at, one of the teachers actually had connections with NASA. And so she had a what's called gadget was the name of it, there is this basically a space club, and really actually focused on the ability to get us kind of interacting with NASA at different levels. So not necessarily astronomy, but more space in the sense that how NASA works. And I had gotten involved with with that group, early on in high school. And so I kind of just had a love for physics and for spaces doing that. The other thing that, you know, really, was something that I always knew growing up was, you know, I loved being a babysitter, you know, in the neighborhood. Love that opportunity. And I knew that I also loved teaching. And so the two main clubs that I was in them were gadget, and then the future educators of America, love at my high school. And so those were the things that, you know, besides the normal, you know, being able to hang out with friends, and, you know, go to the movies, and do all those sorts of regular high school things. Those were the things that really, I'd say resonated with me the most as a high schooler.

Venkat Raman  7:35  

As you were looking to go to college, what what were you looking at? What were you thinking about? What did you want to do?

Kevin H  7:43  [Choosing Truman State University]

What I was really inspired by those high school physics teachers I had. And so my goal when I was looking at colleges was I wanted to, I wanted to be a high school physics teacher. And so I really looked at schools from that angle. And in that process of doing that stumbled, and it really was kind of stumbling upon Truman State University. And one of the things that that caught me that they offered a master's of education degree, if you took one more year after you received your bachelor's, and you would do your bachelor's and whatever you want it. So I was really excited about the idea of like, do my bachelor's in physics, really get into that stuff, and then be able to spend one more year there, get my master's degree and be ready to go? Join, you know, the esteemed group of teachers that are out there teaching, teaching high school. And so that's kind of what I was looking for.

But I would also say the other thing I paid a lot of attention to, as I was looking at college, and really kind of that junior year, when you get the chance to start visiting colleges, is just how did I feel on the campus? Did it feel right? Did I feel comfortable? And there was a lot of internal introspection, I would say that I did at that point. Now, again, I wasn't necessarily super deep. I wasn't a super philosophical kid or anything like that. But I definitely paid attention to that in in some ways, it was surprising how I would go, I would go to some schools anticipating, oh, this is going to be the place for me. And then I leave there for one reason or another being like, Well, that was nice, but didn't quite.

And, you know, I think one of the things that was surprising to me about Truman State University was, its I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, you know, kind of traditional suburbia and Truman State Universities in a town of about 20,000 people. It's the biggest town around in like 45 minutes in any direction in northeast Missouri. And I never would have thought that a rural college environment would have been the one that I would have been attracted to but when I went and visited there it just just felt right.

So that's I think, you know, that was, as I was kind of looking around those were those are big things. Now, the other school that it came down to, or I shouldn't say, of course, but the other school that it came down to was actually Georgetown and Washington DC. So in some regards, I couldn't have imagined schools that would be more different. And, you know, in the end it I felt I felt great in both of them.

But, you know, the opportunity at Truman State University to kind of be that high school physics teacher, is really what ended up driving me there.

Venkat Raman  10:39  

So you go to Truman, and how did you, Or how did you find research, how to discover research there?

Kevin H  10:50  [Transition to Truman State]

So I actually, I got involved really early on.

One of the reasons I got involved really early on was that gadget club that I mentioned before, yeah, yeah, I had a chance to do research as a high school physics student.

And I kind of buried this but I actually had the chance with as a member of a team to send a couple of different experiments up on the Space Shuttle, well, as part of the program that NASA ran, to encourage kids to be interested in space science. And so we, you know, the project that I was most closely involved with, which you know, it was high school kids putting it together, so it didn't come off as well as we would have hoped. But the premise was, can we actually grow mosquitoes in space? Which, which sounds like a crazy idea? Perhaps it's a little bit of a crazy idea. But there's actually some interesting ways as mosquitoes develop, that they actually use gravity. And so that's where the question became, you know, if we put them in a microgravity environment, will they grow the right way.

The experiments didn't work out. But it got me involved in research.

And it certainly, obviously, such that when I was accepted, one of the scholarships that I received from Truman was that during my first year, I would get a one time scholarship for a couple $1,000. That would, with the only caveat was that I had to find a professor on campus to do research with. And I actually got paired with Professor political science, I also had an interest in in that area besides in physics, and did enough of that, to realize that that wasn't the direction of research that I wanted to do.

But also was like, I do want to stick with the research thing. And so I actually had a liberal arts school, one of the great things about it is the faculty there are, you know, really dedicated to teaching, in my experience, not to say that they aren't at other universities too. But you know, that's, that's a more central core premise for a lot of faculty at liberal arts, institutions.

And so I actually pair it up my beginning of my sophomore year with Lauren, the physics professors, and we designed a pedagogical physics project. And, um, you know, so that merged with that idea of wanting the high school physics teacher. All with some research, really, at a time, when I probably wasn't prepared to do physics research myself, just didn't have the knowledge base, to do it, at least at the level of the projects that were available at the time to me. And so I got involved with with that project, had a really great experience with it, he was able to write up a nice summary of it.

And by the time that kind of wrapped up the end of or during my sophomore year, I then started to get into I'd taken the physics classes then to get start getting involved in some, I guess you'd call pure physics or traditional physics research. I started with a simulation project in quantum mechanics. Did that for a period of time, realized that I wanted to get some experience a little more hands on activities as opposed to just being in front of a computer. Although I did enjoy it, I learned that I did want that to be maybe a part of what I did, but not the whole thing.

And so then I found another professor who was doing work in photonics and optics. And building photonic crystal. Worked with him and another good friend, who was a physics major, you know, the two of us, you worked at building a photonic crystal. We were at you know, I think one of the things that was as I look at colleagues that you know, I know now that also took similar paths and research. As an individual at a liberal arts school. What I really realized now is a lot of the research that I did, was selected and designed more for its pedigree. logical value, then for its publication value, the professor's there and they were trying to get things published and get new knowledge out there is a core part of science, but they were also trying to pick out projects where they knew they could inspire. You know, budding scientists like myself.

And so, so yeah, so I, you know, I got away with from was active in those particular projects and really enjoyed them. And it really got me excited about physics and research.

Venkat Raman  15:39  

Now, did you, So at the end of the four years, did you end up building the crystal, The photonic crystals? Was that sort of towards your, in your upper class years?

Kevin H  15:51  

That was yeah, that was primarily a project that we worked on. Yeah, during my third and fourth year, I graduated in four years. So yeah, that was during my third and fourth year, I actually even we didn't quite complete the project. I actually ended up working on it a little bit between the summer between my graduation from undergraduate and starting graduate school.

Venkat Raman  16:18  

So before we talk about Goldwater, so this experience with research, what kind of impact if you will that have on your you think, for those years? What do you think were the main things that happened?

Kevin H  16:36  [UG Research Impact]

Yeah, sure, yeah, it had a lot of impacts on me, I would say probably the most profound impact. And it really, the research was partnered with the courses that I was taking in physics. But it convinced me that I wanted to do more physics. And so I actually changed my career path.

And instead of wanting to be a high school physics teacher, I wanted to be a liberal arts physics professor.

I knew in order to do that, I would need to get a PhD in physics. And, you know, it was a, it was a combination of I wanted to do things that a little bit higher level in physics. And so that's why I wanted to be a professor. But I also knew that it was going to allow me to spend several years, you know, five, six years, doing more of this research more in depth. I was also able to recognize at that point that the research that I was doing, because of the environment that I was in was at a lower level than some colleagues that I had gotten to know through summer research experiences. I was fortunate enough to spend a summer at the National Institutes for Standards and Technology and their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, and got exposed there to a lot of other undergraduate researchers, and many coming from, you know, research intensive universities.

And I realized, oh, wow, these people are doing actual, like cutting edge research as an undergraduate. Whereas I was more learning about things. I would say, I think that that the right place for me at the time, even though maybe it sounds less glamorous, or less prestigious to be kind of doing smaller projects, it allowed me probably to develop the way that I needed to based on my background and who I am and how I learned and how I think.

Venkat Raman  18:29  

So, you know, obviously, there are a couple of big things there. Right. One is you decided to change your career direction for one. And, and, you know, you said you wanted to be a high school teacher now, I think you were looking at something much bigger or different. The second thing was that you have, you know, kind of going to be put into physics. And so where did the Goldwater Scholarship figuring out whether that happened, and how did you go about applying for that?

Kevin H  19:07  [Applying for Goldwater Scholarship]

Yeah, so I honestly don't remember how I found out about the Goldwater Scholarship, but I remember finding out about it. And thinking, That sounds pretty cool that they have a scholarship that you could apply to, to kind of help you, you know, move forward in in science. I certainly know, you know, one of the motivating factors was that I think, like, have kids in college, you want to have as many scholarships as possible, alleviate the financial burden of that college. And so that was actually really attractive to me. And so, I found out about that, I think it was sometime around the summer between my first and second year. And so, I got back to campus that year. I had spent the summer as a camp counselor. I'm so not doing anything physics related, or at least directly. Yeah. And I started asking about it, and was able to find out through kind of word of mouth. That yeah, Truman State has had a couple of individuals apply. It's been a number of years, but you know, we will try to support you. And however, that may work out. And so I went ahead and went through the application process, I had some great mentorship from my physics professors, and, you know, was able to go through and apply for it. I think one of the things that I now realize, I'm being employed at the University of Cincinnati, which is a research intensive university, is that depending on where you're at, the resources to help prepare you for these different types of boards can be vastly different. And so a lot of what I did was kind of by the seat of my pants, for lack of a better phrase in how I prepared for the Goldwater Scholarship. So that's kind of what what got me to applying for it, I guess, at that point.

Venkat Raman  21:25  

You know, I always like to ask this question, why do you think you were awarded the scholarship? And what did you think stood out? Or you said, you said there, you know, while there was a lot of mentorship and help, you were probably competing against people with more resources and more help. So, but you made it so?

Kevin H  21:46  [Why the Application Stood Out?]

I did. I did. Um, sometimes I think maybe the reviewer has misread my application, or got it mixed up with somebody else.

But no, I mean, I think, you know, one of the things that the Goldwater really emphasizes and I participate with the gold order, the different levels. So I'm certainly a lot more familiar with that particular scholarship now than I was at the time of applying is the core of that scholarship is they want to identify students that show exceptional potential in scientific research, science, engineering, mathematics, that, you know, the, the stem realm. Yeah.

And I think probably a couple of things stood out. One was that really, fortuitous experience I had as a high schooler, where I was able to send multiple experiments up on the space shuttle as part of a team. So I'm sure that that stood out to the individuals that were reading it. I think the other thing, you know, in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense, but I didn't really realize it at the time was that, you know, I started research then effectively is roughly a sophomore in high school. I didn't really appreciate it that I was doing that at the time. I mean, I knew I was doing science, but didn't really appreciate it in the context of like, oh, this is real research. Right, right.

And then I continued that, right. It's my freshman year, I was doing political science research. So a little bit different, but still in research, to doing pedagogical research. And then finally, you know, moved into doing a couple of, you know, true scientific research projects. And so I think, just by my kind of natural inclination of being interested in science, being inquisitive about the world, I was always drawn to these sorts of experiences. And I'm guessing that that kind of showed through in my application, in the sense that, you know, look, this is somebody that's kind of bumped around, jumped around a lot, but is always finding themselves doing research activities.

So I think I think those were some key factors to it. I think another key factor likely was that I really did establish, and I did this, both in high school and in college, close professional relationships with my teachers and my professors. It was just, you know, I found those individuals to be one, I was lucky, they were very caring individuals, you know, they really were dedicated to, you know, all the students around them. But also, you know, intellectually, I found them to be stimulating people to be around. I hope, I believe that I treated them with respect, and I engaged them in what they were trying to do, right? They all have jobs where they're trying to make people better, right. That's what teachers and professors are trying to do, right? They're trying to make all the students they interact with to make their lives better to help them find passions to do all those sorts of things. And I engaged with that. And I think that they all probably appreciated that a lot.

Right that that I was was opening myself up in such a way that they could do what they wanted to do as part of their as part of their jobs. And as a result of, you know, having that in establishing those relationships, and you know, having lots of conversations with them, that really enabled them to get to know me, and then to be able to subsequently write, I think, probable, or likely very strong letters of recommendation.

And so I think, you know, that combination of kind of my own history and having really strong letters of recommendation is what allowed me to, perhaps stand out and be awarded that scholarship, despite the fact that I'm sure there were probably other students who had been more quote unquote, productive, you know, were maybe at a large research lab, and maybe had gotten their name on to a presentation that was given as part of that lab or something like that.

Venkat Raman  26:00  

At that point in time and beyond, how has it made a difference to you? What kind of impact did it have there? And does it continue to impact you today?

Kevin H  26:11  [The Goldwater Scholarship Difference]

Yeah, um, so multiple levels there really, I mean, obviously, first, and I don't want to say foremost, but certainly first, at the time, very acutely impacted me in the financial support that I received. Sure. And you know, and so I don't think that that should be overlooked. Beyond that, though, I do think that it gave me when I received the notification award, I think it gave me a sense of external validation, that, Hey, maybe I do have the chops to be able to do and to perhaps, then opened myself up a little bit more to that transition from being, you know, a high school physics teacher to being a college professor. So I think those those were the things that I think impacted me the most while I was in undergrad. Also, given the prestige of the Goldwater Scholarship, I think it probably played a significant role in my being accepted to the University of Michigan, which is where I eventually matriculated as a graduate student in their applied physics program. Thank you know, it was one of those things, particularly as a student coming from a liberal arts school. You know, I had, I mean, we had a relatively for, like, historically, we had a relatively large class of physics students, but it was like, eight of us or something. And so, you know, I was at the top of that class, but being at the top of eight versus, you know, if you're, you know, at a large state institution where there might be, you know, 30 physics majors in your year, it's a little hard to maybe, for universities to figure out, you know, where does this person truly rang? And so I think that was kind of an and so I think that played a big role in me being accepted to the University of Michigan, which is a top notch school. Sure, sure. So I think, you know, that really got my foot into that door. Once I was in graduate school, I don't know that the scholarship really did a whole lot for me at that point. But where it did then now circle back to impact my life was probably roughly about 10 years ago, I was approached by the President of the Goldwater Foundation, asking me if I would be interested in participating in the Goldwater selection process, they were trying to get more former Goldwater scholars involved in that. And so, you know, I was excited about the opportunity to give back to an award that I felt like had had a significant impact on my life. So it was a quick and easy yes. Unbeknownst to me at the time, and in making that, yes, it also then has connected me and allowed me to expand my network, which, you know, is something that I think all of us benefit from is as we expand those networks, and now more recently, is something called the Barry Goldwater Educational Support Fund, which is working to help support the Goldwater Foundation, with an ultimate goal of eventually increasing the number of scholarships that can be offered. Because one thing that we've come to realize is that, even though several 100 of these scholarships can be given out nationwide, we have way more deserving students than we have scholarship slots for sure. We have just, you know, incredible individuals out there. And so, we're working on that. The other thing that we're doing is there's something called the Goldwater scholar community and go to Goldwater community.org To see this And that particular community is made up of individuals who have received the Goldwater Scholarship and they do not. One thing that I think is maybe perhaps of interest to your listeners in particular, is they also provide mentorship programs and resources available to anyone on their website in order to help people move into the research realm. The it's a, it's an amazing group of individuals that run that they're really big on to make science an equitable place in an inclusive place. And so they put resources out there to try to help promote that.

Venkat Raman  30:47  

Tell, tell us a little bit about how you went from there, into I know, you went to University of Michigan, and I believe, I believe you studied, you did a doctorate in physics still, and that was that still in physics?

Kevin H  31:05  [Grad School to Study Applied Physics]

So I actually did a doctorate in Applied Physics. Okay. And, you know, as I reflected back, and I've reflected back on this quite a bit, at this point, I have no idea why I applied to the applied physics program, and not to the physics program at the University of Michigan. I'm sure I had some sort of reasoning at the time. I know, I applied to about 11 graduate schools, and I think all but one of them was just a physics degree, you know, physics PhD from traditional one. But for some reason I had applied to the University of Michigan, I was accepted there did the same sort of thing that I was accepted to the University of Michigan just again, felt like the right institution, the people that I talked to there, provided an environment that I felt really comfortable in. And, you know, and that differs, right for each person was what's going to be and so when I say that, you know, that was the right environment for me, is it the right environment for everyone? Probably not. But I felt really comfortable there. One of the things that I did though, before I arrived, there is that summer between when I graduated from undergrad and started the you know, subsequent fall in graduate school, is I took some time off, which was really great. And is something and we could circle back to this, perhaps, but it was something I found a lot of value in. In particular, one of the things that I did is, as a physics major, I was in the society for physics students. And if you're in the society for physics students, you get this magazine called physics today. And I had this giant stack of them that I hadn't read through just because I was busy being a college student and studying for exams. And you know, it was time to do this. And I read through this like foot and a half tall stack of physics two days, over the course of that summer. It was I even though I had applied to the University of Michigan with an interest at this point, it kind of shifted because of those photonic crystal studies I had done had shifted into kind of optics, actually found the articles that I was really drawn to the most are those that were biomedical related. And they just, they were really intriguing to me, I liked the idea that I could see a potential benefit to other individuals outside of the development of knowledge, which was still occurring. Yeah. And that really resonated with me. So when I got to the University of Michigan, I started interviewing with a bunch of labs, interviewed with a bunch of optics labs, but also branched out in interviewed with a bunch of biomedical research labs. So some of these were bioengineering labs. And they were biomedical engineering labs. Some of them were more biomedical sciences labs, a wide range of them. And again, it came down to finding somewhere that felt really comfortable. And I interviewed with professor named Paul Carson, in the Department of Radiology, he wanted to be able to focus the ultrasound better, because there were all these really cool things that they could do to improve imaging and, and use ultrasound for therapy. And that kind of blew my mind. I was like, you can use ultrasound to like, heal people and stuff I didn't you know, I just wasn't aware of any of that. And you really clicked with him personally. And ended up joining that research group and had a great experience with that. I actually, he ended up being co chair because I also worked with Professor Oliver Kryptonians as really probably the primary faculty member that guided me through my my doctoral work. What this ended up doing is because it was in an apartment of radiology I spent, you know, particularly after I had finished all my coursework during my first and second year I spent most of anytime and then on the medical campus or on the hospital campus, the University of Michigan, this exposed me all sorts of physicians and people from a really wide range of backgrounds and interests that we're all of course, somehow tied into the biomedical area. And so I really, I really enjoyed that experience.

Kevin H  35:22  

And after I finished my PhD, I was looking around, and by this point, I had fallen even more deeply in love with doing research, and decided, okay, well, instead of being a Liberal Arts professor, no, I'm going to be a professor at a research intensive university, and ended up at the University of Cincinnati for what's known as a postdoctoral research fellowship. So it's kind of an additional couple of years of training before I would be ready to be a faculty member and joined the lab of Christy Holland, she was in Biomedical Engineering at the time, but actually then transferred over the course of the first year that I was with her transferred to the Department of Internal Medicine here. And again, that gave me a whole new realm of medicine to be exposed to and to see what sorts of interesting activities were going on. And so then, when it came time to then finally applying for faculty positions, I mostly ended up applying at other universities, in mechanical engineering departments, biomedical engineering departments, or physics departments, because that kind of fit with the type of research I was doing. In the course, of all that happening, though, a position in the Department of Internal Medicine here at the University of Cincinnati, I applied for that and was received an offer to be here, I was also fortunate enough to receive an offer for a faculty position in a mechanical engineering department. But as I looked around, I was like, you know, I'm still really comfortable with myself as a physicist, and but this time, I had kind of morphed a little bit into an engineer. But, you know, I still only ever taken like biology, 101 in biology, 102 kind of level stuff. And I was like, I need to be around, if I really want to do this biomedical thing is still I need to be more around those types of people. And that was then ended up being a strong motivator for why I ended up selecting to stay at the University of Cincinnati and start my and continue my academic trajectory and my faculty position here. I will say, you know, if you'd asked me even a year and a half, before I took on the position that I would be a system professor of internal medicine at the time, I would have, I would have laughed at you. And I certainly know that high school or college age me would have laughed at the thought that that would be the kind of title that I would have. But you know, it was a matter of just kind of following what my interests were in research. best environments for me going to be in order to pursue those passions.

Venkat Raman  37:59  

Wow. That's just an amazing journey.

Venkat Raman  38:02  

I think I think the key here is that you were open minded, and you followed your passion and your interest, I think. And it's just amazing. So if you want to step back and sort of reflect on what kind of skills it takes to do all this research, what would some of the top lines be?

Kevin H  38:30  [Research Skills Gained]

Well, I think you hit two of them already, when you when you were kind of summarizing there. I think passion is critical to doing research. More often than not, you fail in research. You come up with hypothesis, you go to test, and either it's flat out wrong, or it's a little bit so muddy that you can't really tell what wasn't wrong or wasn't right. It's not really clear. And when you're doing cutting edge things, you're at the boundary of knowledge. And so it's unsurprising that we stumble a lot when we're at a boundary. Right? And to be able to continue, I think really requires that you're passionate about what you're doing. So that you're okay with those failures. Yeah, I think that openness is important that you talked about, a spin on that, I think is being open to criticism. And one of the things that I think is critical there is that you are going to make missteps as you're doing your research. And I've made missteps from the first time I started working on research as a high school student. And you've got to be open to accepting the feedback of others and not being so proud to say, oh, no, no, no, no, I was really thinking about it, right? I just did this or this wrong, right. Typically the people that are around you, hopefully if you surrounded yourself with good people are going to provide you with feedback that at times might be uncomfortable. or might feel embarrassing, because you're like, Oh, I really wanted to make a better impression on this person and get this, right. But if you're around researchers, you're around scientists. They're just after the gain the knowledge, they're not there to, you know, say, oh, this person really impressed me. They want to know that may come out that way. But they really want to help you push the edge. And so I think in order to do that, you've got to be open to those criticisms. So you can accept these new ideas. And think about them critically for yourself and say, Is that Is that really a good idea doesn't really fit that way. It doesn't work that way. I will certainly say, you know, in my own career, that has certainly made a big difference for me. I would say the last thing is persistence, right. And it ties in with everything that I've been talking about so far. But you know, having some tenacity to follow things through when they're difficult, or you're tired. And having resiliency, which is related, but not quite the same. I guess it's persistence, having resiliency to that, and figuring out what it takes for yourself to be able to maintain persistence, and resiliency. And of course, a healthy way to show you don't want to, we don't want to push ourselves so far that you know, we either damage our physical or mental health, right, that's, that's the antithesis of what we'd want to be doing.

Venkat Raman  41:35  

If you were to I mean, you obviously started research, right, in high school. What kind of advice would you give high schoolers? What what should they be, You know, obviously, the three things that you just laid out, are super important, but that's something that develops over time. But what kind of skills do you think the high schoolers should be developing vis-a-vis research, if they want to do research?

Kevin H  42:04  [Skills for High Schoolers]

Yeah, I think, um, developing your passion, I think is probably the most important thing you can do in high school. And I think a big part of that, at that stage is just exploration. Right? So being open to, you know, if you've got any variety of science clubs that are around you, either at your school, or in your town or in your city, there's actually also a lot of great on because of the you know, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is there's a lot of great online opportunities available now. So you know, really taking the opportunity just to explore different things, and see what you know, what makes you tick, what gets you excited. That's what I would really encourage high schoolers to do. I know there's a lot of pressure, sometimes to be able to, you know, get the most impressive thing on your resume or on your college application. And I don't want it to mean that those aren't important, those those can be important. But hopefully, what you're doing is not making a decision that's just going to get you into college, or the most just college possible, right? But is setting you up for the life that's going to make you happy. And I think that exploration is going to allow you to hopefully find those passions. I know, this is true of myself. I know, this is true of the vast majority of scientists that I work with. We work a lot of hours. But most of us do it because we love what we're doing. And you know, one of the things that my dad told me when I was younger was that, you know, if you find a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life. And that's, well, that's may not be 100% True. There's definitely some days where it feels like work. Yeah, by and large, that's the truth in that. And so I think, you know, I think your willingness to be able to do that is is really important. Being somebody that's, you know, involved with the Goldwater Scholarship, being somebody that's involved with admissions, you know, at my university, and in some ways, you one of the things that I can definitely say from that anecdotal experience, at least, is, you know, these groups that are doing admissions are making selections. They see so many applications, they can read through the ones where people are just checking boxes, you know, where they're where they can tell, like, Oh, yep, they did this. They did this. They did this. So look, they well rounded and they've covered all these things, versus the ones where somebody's passion, where somebody is really passionate about something, and they can write about it. It comes off differently that way, and it comes off differently, not just because maybe they're a really good writer, but just the way they can present things it will come through. And so exploring and finding those passions is great.

Venkat Raman  45:10  

So, So Kevin, we are beginning to wind down here.

But before you go any interesting or fond memories you want to share from, you know, from your research from undergraduate research or just about anything that you think might be of interest?

Kevin H  45:32  [Memories]

Sure. So I think just picking from the undergraduate time, and actually, well, I can think of two concrete examples from my undergraduate time I, I know I have these in high school too. But um, one of my fondest memories was when the university that I was at was part of the consortium of other universities in in and around Missouri. And so every year, there would be a symposium for undergraduate research in physics that was held by one of the universities. One year it was, was at ours. And so our society physics students chapter, you know, helped plan it, obviously, the professor's probably did the majority of the work, we felt like we were doing a lot, but I'm sure they did. Um, but once we, once it actually happened, and we got everybody together, it was cool to see the research that other people were doing, just to be interacting with all these people from other universities, you know, we did like, projected a movie on the side of one of the buildings and all just kind of sat out under the stars and had popcorn and watched a movie. And I'm sure we were probably throwing, you know, we're throwing popcorn at each other, and just really kind of enjoying ourselves. And a couple with that a different story, where I was working in the lab late one night with another undergraduate and I would say, from a safety perspective, you should always have one other person around when you're doing research. Yeah. And he was working, I don't remember exactly what he was working on. But he was working on something really hard. I had stepped out of the room for some reason. And as I was coming back, I happened to find the balloon. So I blew it up, I walked quietly behind him. And I popped it with a pin. And he jumped out of the seat, you know, probably felt like he jumped 10 feet in the air. And, you know, it's a fond memory and why these two memories come to mind for me. Is that, no, they're both involved with research. Yeah, but they're also emblematic of the fact that, you know, research happens with humanity. Yeah, we're not robots, when we're times it gets repetitive, and we do things like that. But, you know, the people that you're around the people that you surround yourself with, also make a big difference in enjoying your research experience. And so I just really, really treasured those kinds of moments. And I guess, as I think about it, while there are certain scientific results and research outcomes that I'm proud of, you know, that I've been able to achieve, or as part of a team and with the labs that I've been in, I think, you know, the funniest things that I do remember, though, the things that make me smile the most are not those, but are the interactions that I have with the people around me.

Venkat Raman  48:29  

So true, so true. So Kevin, this has been absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much for taking us down your journey here in so so much detail. And thank you for your generosity with in terms of time and information. So I thank you now, and I'm sure we'll talk some more in the future. But for right now, take care. Be safe. Thank you so much.

Kevin H  48:57  

Thank you. It's been a pleasure to chat.

Venkat Raman  49:00  

Thank you. Bye,

Kevin H  49:01  

bye.

---------------------

Venkat  49:07  [Close]

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Kevin Haworth on his journey from Physics to Internal Medicine.

Kevin’s love for physics, research, and his focus on being a scientist, drove his decisions in his undergraduate and graduate college years.

His quest for knowledge has taken him to Internal Medicine, even though he thought that Biology wasn’t for him in High School.

He won the Goldwater Scholarship on the strength of his demonstrated interest in research since middle school.

Today, he is helping mentor and guide, aspiring Goldwater Scholars with the application process.

I hope you are inspired by Kevin’s story and pursue UG Research at your college.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!


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