Diane Koopmann

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Diane Koopmann

Diane Koopmann

Health disco academic program
Nutrition with an option in Nutrition and Health Sciences
healthy disco cohort year

Research Reflection

My name is Diane Koopmann, I am a second-year nutrition major with an option in nutrition and health science on the pre-med track. My research project was on the survival of bovine whey proteins in the adult gastrointestinal tract. I worked in the Dallas Lab under the mentorship of graduate student Suwimon Sutantawong. After this project wrapped up at the end of winter term, I began working under the mentorship of Dr. Ningjian Liang, whom I will continue to work with after the end of URSA Engage.

Dallas Lab

URSA Engage was a highly beneficial experience for me and has so far been one of my favorites at Oregon State. My research endeavors began when I visited Dr. David Dallas’ office in Milam Hall after seeing that his lab was searching for URSA Engage participants. I was inspired to pursue research in nutritional science because I enjoyed learning about human digestion and nutrient absorption in my classes, and I wanted a feel for what it’s like to work in a university research lab.

lab items

My only prior wet lab experience was my general chemistry lab course freshman year, so I was a bit nervous about performing experiments I had never previously done or heard of. I expected the learning process to be very stressful for someone like me with no prior research experience. Thankfully, my mentor was very supportive of my learning every step of the way, and performing new experiments felt more exciting than stressful. I was surprised by how much of what I learned from my chemistry, biology and nutrition classes applied to the experiments I was doing.

Diane Koopmann

In my future at OSU, I hope to see myself presenting new research projects and getting published in an academic journal. As I prepare to apply to medical school in a couple of years, I will continue participating in undergraduate research to build my skillset and professional network. My ultimate career goal is to become a physician who works with underserved populations.

Why did you choose the COH at OSU to pursue your studies?

I chose OSU because I felt a strong sense of belonging when I visited the campus as a high school senior. My interest in studying applied science and human health drove me to pursue a degree in the COH. Aspects of the college that I particularly appreciate are how the college provides a smaller academic community within a large state school, its various research opportunities, and support for students aspiring to work in health care.

What sparked your interest in health?

I've had an interest in working in the medical field since I was a child because I come from a family of devoted health care professionals who've inspired and influenced me throughout my entire life. The COVID-19 pandemic further sparked my interest in health, and volunteering at one of Portland's mass vaccination sites solidified my interest in dedicating my career to supporting the health of my community.

Why are you interested in research?

Throughout my freshman year at OSU, I enjoyed taking my science classes (definitely more than I thought I would) and found their lab components very interesting. This active interest followed me throughout my sophomore year and motivated me to participate in URSA Engage. Performing new experiments, learning how to follow the scientific method, and gaining wet lab skills have been nothing but rewarding and intriguing experiences.

What research will you be working on and with whom?

I am working in Dr. David Dallas' lab under the mentorship of Dr. Ningjian Liang and Suwimon Sutantawong. I am researching the extent to which bioactive milk proteins and peptides survive throughout the human digestive system.

What are your future career and/or academic plans?

My future academic plans are to apply to graduate school, where I plan on continuing to research and learn about human health. I'd love to stay on the West Coast working with underserved and vulnerable populations.


The Healthy Discoveries undergraduate research program is made possible with the generous support of the Patricia Valian Reser Fund for Experiential Learning.