Tannin Biochemistry - It's Just Chemistry: Video Transcript

Ann Hagerman, PhD [Professor of Biochemistry]: So, I think one of the real strengths of Miami, especially in our science departments, is the opportunity for students to do undergraduate research. And usually what happens is that a student comes into your office and says that they're interested in independent study. And so you talk to them a little bit about your research. You talk to them about what kinds of things you're interested in. They tell you about their interests.

And then the student starts working with you, and it really is independent study. We try to mentor the students, but we try not to over direct them. We try to give them an opportunity to develop all the skills they'll need to do research. So, it's one of the actually very special things that we have at Miami is a lot of opportunity for that independent study.

Melanie Krook [senior, Biochemistry and French majors]: I felt that, by working with Dr. Hagerman, I could be an independent person in the sense that it wasn't going to be her telling me what to do and her watching over me every second. I was given a sense of freedom, where I could come into the lab and essentially create my own experiment and figure out the controls and the variables that I needed to study. And then, after I was running the experiment, I could then go talk to her about the data that I had found and I really liked that aspect of freedom.

And, about her research, I really enjoyed what she was studying, so I read her synopsis on the website and it was about tannins and since I was interested in medical school, I was looking for something that was related to the body. So, her research looking at tannins through the digestive system was something that really interested me.

Dr. Hagerman: So, my research interest is compounds that are found in plants and in plant-based foods, things like tea and chocolate, and how those compounds impact both human health and the environment. And so, Melanie's research has been specifically about what happens to those compounds when they enter the human digestion system.

And so, we have a model digestive system. It doesn't involve any animals or any humans or anything. It's just chemistry. But she puts the compounds in that system and then she instrumentally measures what happens to the compounds as they pass through the digestive tract. And so, ultimately the application of that will be to understand better how those compounds might actually impact human and animal health.

Melanie Krook: When I came to Miami I thought I wanted to go into medicine and pursue a career in medical school but, after I started research, I realized that I was on the wrong path. I really fell in love with what I was doing hands-on in the lab. And that's what I wanted to take with me, down the road into my future.

So I think that, being here in Dr. Hagerman's lab, and working hands-on on the laboratory experiences as well as going to the presentation in Boston (I went to another one in Pittsburgh), presenting at poster sessions here at Miami and then papers have really influenced what I want to do with my future, in that I want to go into research to help benefit science and help benefit humans, such as diseases like cancer or other diseases.

[October 2010]