Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Biology Student Builds Clear Path to Future Career

Brandi Herron | Undergraduate, Biology

Sophomore Brandi Herron (Biology, ’16) is a planner—always thinking about the bigger picture, what’s her next step and how she can make an impact.

When Herron plays her flute—a hobby of eight years—she’s not just making beautiful music. She’s preparing her hands and mind for the intricate manual dexterity it takes to become an orthodontist. And when she chose to attend IUPUI School of Science, she knew the research opportunities that begin freshman year would give her an advantage when pursuing graduate school.

With a year of the Biology Freshman Work Program under her belt, Herron is now exploring the microbiology behind dentistry through a Life-Health Sciences Internship (LHSI) research project.

Brandi Herron
Brandi Herron (right) collaborates with fellow students.

“My research project is looking at how nicotine affects the cardiovascular system by increasing the amount of bacteria in your mouth and how it travels into your blood stream,” Herron explained. “I’m getting that little taste of how the biology relates to the dentistry.”

These research opportunities and the close-knit environment among students and faculty have made Herron proud of her decision to attend IUPUI.

“It’s neat to know they care a little more, so it makes it more personal,” she said of her professors. “Coming from a small school, I really like that.” Herron graduated as her class valedictorian from Churubusco High School in northern Indiana.

Now Herron is making the School of Science experience more personal for others as part of the Science Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT).

“We work not only with prospective students, but also with current students to help tell what the School of Science is really about,” she said.

So what does she want prospective students to know?

“You don’t want to have your college experience just be college. Going to classes all the time really isn’t the highlight of my undergraduate career,” she said. “It’s more of what I do in my spare time, such as research and making friends.”

She’s found those connections through coursework and her time in the lab, but also the many student organizations such as Biology Club, Chemistry Club and Pre-Dental Club.

“It’s still such a big school…(but) it doesn’t feel like it,” she said. “We’re so close—I know everyone who’s in my labs. I know the majority of the people in my big lectures now.”

When Herron isn’t spending time researching or with friends, she also likes to volunteer with organizations throughout the city. It’s that desire to give back that ultimately led her to the School of Science. She credits her hometown orthodontist for her decision to pursue pre-dentistry.

“He would explain things to me—more than I feel I cared to know at the time, but it was really interesting to me,” she said. “It’s just a way you can apply that kind of science to helping people.”