Brent Dulaney: From High School Exploration to Internship, Indianapolis Native is One Step Closer to a Life Sciences Career

This is part of an ongoing series featuring talent development success stories and the people behind them.

Brent Dulaney, a junior at IU Indianapolis, has parlayed his early interest in biomedical sciences into a health science degree program at IU Indianapolis and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

LSAMP is a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) program that supports students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with the goal of providing STEM research experience for underrepresented minorities.

Dulaney’s path to LSAMP began as early as high school. At Lawrence Central High School, where he graduated with technical honors, Dulaney was involved in the school’s career advancement program called the McKenzie Center for Innovation & Technology. While there, he explored biomedical sciences and engineering through project-based learning.

Dulaney says the experience opened his eyes to multiple engineering disciplines, ultimately helping him decide what he wanted to study at IU Indianapolis. But he is quick to add that his family’s success in the healthcare, life sciences and engineering fields also impacted him and led to his fascination with how diseases can affect different people, depending on their background, and how they can evolve and mutate with various conditions.

“Both of my sisters, who have graduated from Purdue and Western Michigan universities, are in the healthcare atmosphere. One works in the field of cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators, while the other is involved in biomedical research focusing on healthcare advancements for both humans and animals. My mother is a physician practice coordinator for a national medical group, and my father is a broadband network engineer,” says Dulaney.

Brent’s journey has been somewhat of a trifecta: Starting with mentorship through his family, to high school studies in STEM to what is today a continuation of his hands-on learning experience in the lab and his field of interest.

As Dulaney began searching for opportunities in the disease research field, he realized it was hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace and that he needed to get his name out there. When he connected with Ascend Indiana, he got the encouragement he was looking for from one of Ascend’s career mentors, Bob.

“I got an email from Bob, and he said we’ll have a 15-minute call just to see what my career goals are, what am I looking for, and how he can help me,” Dulaney explained.

Dulaney pointed out that there were a few opportunities through IUI he was interested in and used his time with Bob to get his opinion on how best to network, prepare for interview questions and how to be confident in those conversations.

“Prior to Ascend Indiana, I’ve only had a couple of jobs,” Dulaney said. The phone conversations Dulaney had with Bob helped make up for that inexperience.

“Bob was always there to help me out and just give me advice, help with my resume, help with reference lists, and just like the little details that you sometimes overlook. He was there to make sure I hit every box,” Dulaney says.

With Bob’s encouragement, Dulaney landed the opportunity with LSAMP, where he is studying bone cell biology and bone regeneration. Dulaney says he plans to soak up as much as he can from this experience and use this opportunity to enhance his resume. At the end of his grant, he will share what he learned at a presentation and in September use his newly learned skills to present on a higher level before professors and the dean of schools at IUI.

But LSAMP isn’t the only opportunity Ascend helped Dulaney secure. Dulaney also applied for and received the Life-Health Sciences Internship (LHSI), a paid internship for students at IU Indianapolis who are in their second or third year of studies. He received notice of that internship prior to LSAMP and will begin this fall in the pulmonary research field.