CEDARVILLE — Cedarville University encourages students to pursue both academic excellence and a lifestyle of service. For Ryan Lokkesmoe, a senior molecular and cellular biology major from Wisconsin, these two pursuits have come together in a unique way.
Lokkesmoe spent two months last summer volunteering and conducting research in Ghana as part of his pursuit of a future in medicine. He will present his data and report at the annual Global Health & Innovation Conference at Yale University April 14-15.
The Global Health & Innovation Conference is the largest global health conference in the country. More than 2,000 professionals and students from all 50 states and 55 countries will attend the conference. Lokkesmoe will be one of a few undergraduate students making presentations.
The conference is presented each year by Unite For Sight, a nonprofit organization that supports eye clinics worldwide. Lokkesmoe volunteered with Unite For Sight in Ghana. He traveled to all 10 regions in the country, helping to provide screening for eye conditions in partnership with local clinics.
Lokkesmoe also conducted research while in Ghana, interviewing more than 100 individuals at the clinics. He studied patients’ perceptions of clinics and their reasoning for seeking more traditional treatments, such as the use of herbs.
“Learning to interact with the people and their culture and being so out of my comfort zone was great for a future in medicine,” Lokkesmoe said. “It helped me learn how to understand how people think and realize that they don’t all have the same reasons for doing things.”
In addition to developing his presentation for the Global Health & Innovation Conference, Lokkesmoe has also written an article outlining his research, which he hopes to have published in a research journal. He appreciates not only the opportunity this experience gave him to help with patient care at the eye clinics but also to better understand the role of research in the medical field.
“Having opportunities like this gives me the chance to experience what research is like, see the practical benefits of it and evaluate and decide if this is something that I want to do,” Lokkesmoe said.