Senior accomplishes a first for Simpson in scientific research

by Shelby McCasland, Staff Reporter

Senior Ethan Madden is creating buzz in the Simpson community with a recent breakthrough in his research project.

“The project I started as a sophomore came to a peak a few weeks ago.  I’ve been working on creating this mutant in the single-celled tetrahymena. And I finally got there. I actually got to mutate this gene, so it is no longer functional, which is awesome. It’s the first time Simpson has ever had a clone, let alone a knockout. So, it’s been awesome; I’m really excited about that,” Madden said.

Madden, a biology major, has been involved in research for the biology department at Simpson since his first year. He has been a teaching assistant for several classes, does recruitment for the biology department and is now working as a research undergraduate assistant for Dr. Subramanian. 

Madden said that Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Subramanian has had a large impact on his time at Simpson.

“My favorite thing has had to be working with Dr. S. and being able to start my research career. Prior to last year, I really wasn’t super serious as a researcher,” Madden said. “She definitely got me started early, getting into the basics of research and understanding science. She’s opened every door for me. So, I really appreciate that and my interaction and my relationship with her has been the greatest part of Simpson so far.”

Madden has not only done work at Simpson, he also has done research at the University of Colorado medical campus over the past summer, doing work on human gene regulation.  He plans to continue working towards a Ph.D. after graduating. In the long-term, Madden hopes to work on the education side of research to tackle the barriers of professionalism that are limiting access to science for some people.

“I want to get into education and into a position where I can kind of tackle, like the barrier of professionalism. I feel like that holds back a lot of people from being able to access education,” Madden said. “So many people grow up with, like, this very white-minded, classical idea of how you’re supposed to interact and how you’re supposed to communicate science. And that prevents a majority of the world from accessing, like, the knowledge that’s available, so overall, that’s what I want to do.”

Madden did not come to Simpson with the intention of becoming involved in scientific research. 

“In all honesty, I picked Simpson because I had friends here.  Also, I got into the Simpson Promise program, you know, and like there are better scholarships than other schools that I was considering so it was a relatively easy choice of picking which was cheaper.” Madden said.