This year, the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences boasts two University Fellows-- a distinction granted annually to 24 graduate students from different disciplines at the University of Arizona. The University Fellows Program—an initiative of the UA Graduate Center— fosters interdisciplinary scholars and collaborative innovation on campus and beyond.
Recently, we sat down with University Fellow Caroline Geisler (Foy) to find out more about her, the advantages of being named a University Fellow, her research, what drives her success and what advice she has for other students.
Caroline Geisler is a doctoral student in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. Geisler was raised outside Dayton and earned a B.S. in zoology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She then joined the University of Arizona, completing an M.S. in Animal Sciences. Geisler's primary research interest centers around the impacts metabolism and endocrinology have on systemic health and liver physiology. Geisler's master's thesis investigated how signaling by ketone bodies affects the hepatic (liver) adaptation to fasting. Her Ph.D. research focuses on how lipid accumulation in the liver drives pathophysiologies—changes in the body that accompany disease—that are common to obesity and diabetes, such as insulin resistance and hypertension.
Advantages of being named a University Fellow were easy for Geisler to identify. She is looking forward to the mentee program, allowing her to mentor a freshman undergraduate student. There are community outreaches and activities as well as weekly classes led by different speakers, professionals and experts which serve to broaden the knowledge base and experiences of the University Fellows. Additionally, after creating a grant proposal, groups of Fellows are tasked with creating a cohesive project using their various skills to address the diverse issues presented.
To Geisler, the best thing about her research is that it fascinates her. Her current research with assistant professor Benjamin Renquist involves searching for mechanistic understanding of the connection between hepatic lipid accumulation and various conditions such as insulin resistance and hypertension. The liver is the dominant metabolic organ, making it the site of a lot of metabolic dysfunction in the body. Sometimes things are thought to be set in stone, but this is not the case. Geisler explained the problem with co-morbidities as a chicken or the egg scenario, there is no clear root cause. On a cellular level everything is complicated and intertwined and she is interested in figuring out some of those relations by researching hormones and proteins and their different interactions. Research is Geisler's ultimate goal right now and also after graduation, in academia or industry.
Success to Geisler comes naturally, due to her strong internal drive to do well. If doing something, she wants to do it as best as she can, and she lives by the old saying: work hard, play hard. When asked what advice she had for other students, Geisler said “not to stress out so much.”She noted how students often feel very pressured and that can affect performance. She added that many different opportunities are available to students so they shouldn't worry if things don't go exactly as planned.