Senior’s MU career rooted in research

Skyler Kramer has worked in a different lab every year of college, exploring all manner of subjects.
MU senior Skyler Kramer has worked in 4 different labs researching various subjects.

MU senior Skyler Kramer has worked in four different labs in his four years at MU, and it all began with a flyer.

“I was walking around with my summer welcome group and I just happened to see a flyer for the ecology lab,” Kramer said. “I got really interested in it. I had sort of done research through high school, but nothing in a formal lab, nothing like what it was like here.”

Kramer studied population dynamics of salamanders in the ecology lab during his freshman year. From there, he moved to a lab studying HIV. Then he started at a lab looking at the DNA of corn. Kramer said all this variety has led him to what he’s passionate about: statistics and data.

“I’ve been moving around trying to figure out what I like most in research and labs,” Kramer said. “So starting off in the first one, I did really basic statistics, and I really liked that. I moved on to the next one, and I got a little more stats. The third lab was almost exclusively stats. Thus far, I’ve only done stats in this most recent lab.”

Kramer said that the discovery aspect of research is what’s gotten him hooked.

“I think that moment when you figure something out and you’re the only person in the whole world that actually knows what that mechanism is or what that statistical relationship is,” Kramer said, “I just think that’s a really neat feeling.”

Currently, Kramer is working at the MU Metabolomics Center. In layman’s terms, metabolomics is the study of the substances involved in an organism’s metabolism.

“So, say you have a diseased plant versus a healthy plant,” Kramer said. “You can send samples to the metabolomics center and they can say, ‘Here are all the small molecules in the healthy plant and here are all the small molecules in the diseased plant - how are they different?’”

Kramer’s resume doesn’t just list four research labs, though. He’s a chemistry and biochemistry tutor, treasurer of the Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry fraternity and co-president of the biochemistry club.

Dr. Shari Freyermuth, the faculty advisor for the biochemistry club, said Kramer’s dependability has made him an effective president.

“Before our first meeting, I sent an email to one of our professors [saying], ‘Oh, I forgot to ask you to mention this to your students,’ and she wrote back and said, ‘Skyler’s already sent me an email about it,’” Freyermuth said. “I never have to worry about Skyler.”

Outside the realm of science, he’s the vice president of MU Relief for Africa, a student organization that raises money for service projects in African countries. Kramer said the club is currently working on raising money for Personal Energy Transportation, or mobility carts, in Kenya.

“Last year was our first year here on campus,” Kramer said of the club. “Essentially, it’s a way to help people move around a little bit easier if they have some sort of spinal condition or something like that.”

Kramer said he’s working on applying to graduate programs in data science, computer science and biochemistry. Ultimately, it’s Kramer’s love of research and statistics that drives his goals for the future.

“You can sit in a biology lecture and learn about the research that other people have done and why we know the things that we know,” Kramer said, “but to actually be the person to make those discoveries is a completely different thing.”

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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