Video: Unlocking the Cause
Students dissect the genes of cancer cells with Associate Professor Ted Meigs
As an undergrad student, Associate Professor of Biology Ted Meigs was encouraged by his professors to challenge himself in the lab. Today, he shares that same teaching philosophy with his students, getting them involved in real-world work as undergraduate researchers. His team of students is studying what triggers certain cancer cells to grow and metastasize in the human body. Meigs proudly points out that his students' names have appeared in joint studies alongside researchers from prestigious universities from around the country.
In this video, Meigs explains how emphasizing real-world research develops students' abilities.
Transcript: "My name is Ted Meigs, and I am an associate professor of biology at UNC Asheville. My specialty is cell biology and molecular biology, and I've been in this field for about 20 years."
"The research we do here has to do with trying to figure out what makes cancer cells do some of the things they do – in terms of becoming more aggressive in their growth and becoming able to invade other parts of the body."
"So what makes our program perhaps unique from many other research programs is that undergraduates are really the primary researchers in this. We basically have the undergraduates train in the lab, and we end up treating them like they're really first- or second-year graduate students after a while. We have them performing all these different tasks that involve, say, splicing other different parts of genes to form a hybrid DNA molecule that we then put back into the cell. So the students are actually genetically engineering cancer cells."
"We try to give the students a lot of hands-on attention; we don't try to coddle them. We don't try to tell them exactly what to do, but here they're going to have lots and lots of attention from the faculty. Really, one of my favorite aspects of UNC Asheville is that not only do I get to do that, but I believe that type of teaching – that type of very hands-on teaching – is rewarded and encouraged by this university. Because ultimately to become scientists, they need to develop that ability to not just be a worker but rather to be really a leader."