June 6, 2016

SVSU neuroscience student honored for brain research

A Saginaw Valley State University student has earned two major accomplishments recently for his dedication in research relating to improving the lives of individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

While attending The Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience conference last month, Zackary Bowers, a psychology major from Freeland, received an Undergraduate Student Outstanding Poster Award from among 180 poster presentations.

The award recognized Bowers’ research in improving brain functionality for individuals suffering from traumatic brain injury. The research was performed in SVSU’s Brain Research Lab, where he has worked for about two years under the guidance of Charles Weaver, assistant professor of health sciences, and Jeffrey Smith, SVSU’s Malcolm & Lois Field Endowed Chair of Health Sciences.

“The mentorship has been great,” Bowers said. “And the faculty here provide so much room for you to grow, so long as you are willing to work hard. I didn’t think undergraduates were able to do this kind of research until I saw the kind of research they were doing at SVSU.”

Bowers began at SVSU as a business major but eventually connected with members of the Brain Research Lab. He grew up reading publications such as Popular Science, and discovering the university’s laboratory reignited his interest in science.

Smith said Bowers is deserving of the accolades.

“He’s a very bright, hard working student,” Smith said. “He puts a lot of effort into everything he does.”

Bowers, in turn, credited SVSU’s faculty and resources for providing an environment that leads to academic success, as well as the classmates who helped in his research efforts.

“It’s been a life-changing experience,” he said of the research.

Bowers’ next life-changing opportunity will include presenting at the National Neurotrauma Society’s conference. He received a travel award that will fund his attendance at the organization’s annual symposium June 26-29 in Lexington, Kentucky. He will be a rare undergraduate student presenting research at the conference, which primarily features Ph.D. researchers and graduate students discussing the latest findings in neurotrauma science.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” said Bowers, who was born in Caseville and graduated from Gladwin High School in 2010. “It’s going to be a great experience.”

Bowers expects to graduate in May 2017 and plans to pursue a Ph.D. that focuses on research of brain cell development. Eventually, he hopes to work as a university professor.