Millie Ronkainen is a pre-med biology and chemistry double major at WKU from Hodgenville, Ky.
Through the connections she made in BIO 212, Millie met Rodney King, Ph.D., of WKU’s Biology department, which led to the opportunity for her to begin research in his lab during her sophomore year.
“I was hesitant to sign up for BIO 212 as a freshman because it wasn’t a standard lab for freshman biology, but I am so grateful I did,” said Millie. “It opened a world of opportunities for me.”
Since then, Millie has presented her research at several conferences, including a national symposium at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Washington, DC, and a national meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in New Orleans. She has also been the recipient of a couple of awards for her research, including the Ogden Outstanding Biotechnology Student Award.
Millie plans to continue her research as the basis for her Honors thesis.
As she looks towards the future, she can already see how her research involvement is going to make a difference in her professional life.
“Research experience demonstrates a level of professional development and critical thinking desired by many professional programs, especially medical and dental schools,” Millie explains. “I plan to use this to my advantage as I apply to medical school for a combined M.D./Ph.D. program. I would like to continue my research with a PhD, and eventually become an ER physician or trauma surgeon.”