Joshua McGuire: Traveling Man
November 13, 2013
Working his way through ASU’s pre-health professions program, Joshua McGuire has taken many a road trip.
But rather than parties, football games or family gatherings, the senior biochemistry major from San Angelo has been traveling to research presentations, neuroscience seminars and national conferences. McGuire’s first trip was to Austin in April of 2013 to present his research poster during Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.
“We were set up in the basement area of the Capitol building,” McGuire said. “It was packed in there with a research poster from just about every college in Texas, and a lot of people came by to look at and ask about our posters. I also got to look around at the other posters for a while, and we all got to go up and watch the House proceedings and they acknowledged us there.”
Titled “Hofmeister Effects on the Structure and Fluorescence of Green Fluorescent Protein,” McGuire’s research utilizes the series of salts called the Hofmeister Series to better determine and understand how they affect protein structure in general because they can both unfold and stabilize proteins. Protein mis-folding can lead to severe neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“If you do the work, ASU prepares you just as well as any other school for what you want to do, as long as you are willing to put forth the effort.”
Shortly after returning from Austin, McGuire was on the road again, this time on a monthlong overseas trip to Germany to attend the College of Charleston’s Neuroscience Seminar at Charité Medical University in Berlin and Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich.
“Before the trip even began, we were assigned journal articles to read, analyze and write essays on,” McGuire said. “Then for part of the classwork, I led a discussion over my journal article, and then the researcher who actually wrote the article came and gave a lecture over it. We also got to see a few mouse behavior labs, but mostly we did a lot of classwork at the Charité in Berlin.”
“In Munich it was more lab work,” he continued. “We still had the same type of classwork, discussions and lectures in the mornings, and then in the afternoons we would go to the different labs. We saw labs where they were working with bats and the neurology of their behaviors, and we got to see the grasshopper anatomy labs. They were doing a lot of work with the ocular systems of tadpoles, as well as with Mongolian gerbils because their auditory systems are very similar to humans.”
The Germany trip also included viewing medical imaging techniques and conducting field work at the Seewiesen Research Institute in Bayern, but there was also some fun to be had. McGuire’s sightseeing in Berlin included Potsdam castles, the East Side Gallery, museums, the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag government buildings and Check Point Charlie. He also got to see some of the older architecture of Munich and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp just north of Berlin.
“In Berlin, we had morning classes and the afternoons were basically ours to go out and see everything,” McGuire said. “Munich was more intensive with morning classes and afternoon labs, so we had to go out on the weekends to see and do other things. But it was all very interesting.”
Since returning from Germany, McGuire has continued his research on the Hofmeister Series, and in November took another road trip to present further results at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Conference in New Orleans.
Outside of his research and travel, the Honors Program has kept McGuire busy throughout his time at ASU. He has participated in the Community Development Initiative as a board member of the San Angelo Public Arts Council, is a member of the Honors Student Association and has acted as an Honors Program mentor since 2012. He is also a member of the Alpha Chi national honor society and an officer for ASU’s chapter of the Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) national biology honor society.
On top of all that, McGuire works a part-time job at Shannon Medical Center as he prepares to graduate in May of 2014 and then take his next road trip – to medical school and a future career as a neurosurgeon.
“I had always heard that ASU was a good pre-med school,” McGuire said. “But, it’s what you put into it that counts. If you do the work, ASU prepares you just as well as any other school for what you want to do, as long as you are willing to put forth the effort.”