Student Spotlight: Kyle Wegner

Kyle Wegner Headshot
Kyle Wegner (x ’19, Vezina Lab) will defend on December 20th. He has been on the job-hunt and looking for a job within industry. Between writing, applying, and interviewing, he interviewed with Anne Turco to speak about his grad student journey.

Where are you from and what attracted you to the UW MET program?

I am originally from Kewaskum, Wisconsin and completed my B.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. I knew when I graduated from my undergraduate program that I wanted to pursue toxicology given my enthusiasm for biology and aptitude for chemistry. The MET program has an excellent reputation as a top tier toxicological training program.

Describe the focus of your thesis research project.

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the lab of Dr. Chad Vezina whose research goal is to identify the underlying basis of urinary dysfunction in aging men. The fields of toxicology and urology have developed in parallel but have not intersected. This is unfortunate because modern toxicology principles may hold the key to identifying previously unrecognized contributors to urinary tract disease. My dissertation research unites principles of toxicology and urology to evaluate the role of the environment in urinary dysfunction in aging men.

What do you consider as your most interesting or exciting finding to-date?

Characterizing urinary dysfunction in mice is challenging because mice cannot communicate the presence or absence of symptoms and little is known about normal mouse urinary behaviors. We addressed these hurdles by devising an affordable, non-invasive, and repeatable assay to quantify urinary function and optimized new techniques for imaging histological changes in the mouse prostate.

What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment or rewarding experience in graduate school?

During my training, I earned an F31 PreDoctoral Training Fellowship through the NIEHS. This was an incredible opportunity to see the fine details about how research is funded that are often missed by graduate students.

What is your favorite outside-of-lab hobby?

I am often found either building/improving my home computers or completing my latest aquarium project.

Looking back, what advice would you give to a student who is just starting graduate school?

Look for as many career training opportunities as possible. Too many graduate students don’t participate in the career training events until their last months in graduate school. By then, it is often too late to pick up valuable transferable skills. Also, don’t be afraid to raise questions to peers, colleagues, and instructors. Science is meant to be critiqued and learning how to formulate appropriate and direct questions is a valuable skill to practice in graduate school..

What has been your favorite part of living in Madison?

Being from Wisconsin, Madison is truly a highlight of the state. The sheer number of natural areas to explore on day trips is amazing.

What are your post-graduation career plans?

I am actively looking for my next opportunity. Currently I am looking at roles in drug development, consumer products, and risk assessment. Please feel free to connect if you would like to know more!

Looking back, what is your best memory from graduate school?

Hands down it has been my mentorship opportunities. I have been very fortunate to have more than 13 mentees over the last few years. Each has found success in their career paths and it has been very rewarding to help them on that journey.