Biology Student Wins Two Awards, Learns Importance of Diversity
Columbus State University student Michael Rohly hopes to provide affordable medicines domestically and abroad by developing a well-rounded research experience, participating in a variety of conferences and symposiums, partnering with experienced scientists and networking with fellow student scientists.
“I would say (I am pursuing a biology degree) because science doesn’t affect just one type of person,” Rohly, an honors student dual-majoring in biology and mathematics and minoring in business, said. “It affects all of us. It affects us as a whole. I want to be part of something that doesn’t just benefit one type of person.”
Rohly plans to get a medical degree and open a research lab to develop technologies in medicine. The end goal will be to develop inexpensive medicines.
As of right now, Rohly is seizing opportunities for student research by participating in conferences and symposiums, networking and serving as president of several clubs at Columbus State. In 2016, Rohly participated in and won awards from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) and the Southeastern Medical Scientists Symposium (SEMSS).
“The research was completed last summer in Boston as part of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute,” Rohly said. “The research was looking at regeneration in zebrafish kidneys following injury. We (humans) do not have that ability, but remarkably, they do. Obviously, if we could have that it would be pretty nice.”
Rohly won Outstanding Poster Presentation at ABRCMS 2016 and third place in poster presentation at SEMSS for his research on kidney regeneration in zebrafish.
“The biggest reason I enjoyed ABRCMS so much I feel that being in a setting like that allows me to share with others the importance of the diversity of having as many people on a problem as you possibly can with different viewpoints,” Rohly said. “It’s a fact that different backgrounds produce different results.”
Diversity is one of Rohly’s priorities. He plans to work with an assortment of people, in a variety of places and participate in different types of research. By doing so, he hopes to have a well-rounded research program.
“Diversity is so important to me,” Rohly said. “More and more every day, I realize the importance (of diversity).”
Rohly, a first-generation college student, has faced many challenges as a university student. As a 28-year-old undergraduate, Rholy has been in and out of college since graduating from high school. He originally entered university with a dual major in psychology and marketing, but struggled to balance work and school. Without passion for his studies, he found it difficult to continue and ended up taking a two-year sabbatical before returning to college as a biology major.
“I love (biology and mathematics), whereas with the other two degrees, I didn’t love it,” Rohly said. “I really love that moment in biology and math where you’re just like ‘Wow, it’s so cool.’”
Rohly was raised by his mother and lived on a lake. He said he spent most of his time outdoors as a child. With that came many broken bones and stitches. He spent quite a bit of time in the hospital.
“That’s where I first developed my passion for biology, ecosystems, living creatures and medicine itself,” Rohly said. “Once I got to a point where I was pushing through this finance class that I absolutely hated… I’m sitting there reflecting on what I liked as a child, and I came back (to college) as a biology major.”
Rohly has one or two semesters left of undergraduate before he moves on to medical school. He is district president and president of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society. He is also president and founder of his university’s math club and president of the psychology club.
“With the M.D., I think that knowing I’ll go through four years of hell to help so many people later on is going to be the driving force for me,” Rohly said. “I want to have a lab, but I also want to be a global physician. Wherever the focus needs to be is where I’ll go.”