Faculty Spotlight: Nicole Iverson

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Faculty Spotlight: Nicole Iverson
Nicole Iverson

About Nicole Iverson:
I was born and raised in a suburb of St. Paul, MN. I always excelled at math and science but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I took an anatomy and physiology class that I found my calling. I am enthralled by the complicated systems and intricate interactions that are taking place within living organisms. I have been a biomedical engineer throughout my academic life, from my undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota through my graduate work at Rutgers University in New Jersey and my postdoctorate fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Moving to the East Coast for research broadened my horizons and gave me wonderful opportunities to learn and think in new ways but I am excited to be back in the Midwest, closer to my roots.

What is your position at UNL?
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. I will be splitting my time between research and teaching. I think that I am like most new professors; I’m excited about my research and about the students. My research will focus on taking the carbon nanotube sensors that I helped to develop in my postdoctorate work and using them to discover what specific reactions are taking place during disease progression. I will start by focusing on nitric oxide which, in my opinion, is one of the least appreciated and understood reactive molecules in the body due to the fact that it degrades so quickly and has been impossible to track over extended time scales in living systems. With the new sensors that we created there is now a system to track these analytes and hopefully bring a deeper understanding to the inflammation process.

In addition to my research I will be spending a lot of time with the BSE students. I enjoy watching students as they comprehend a difficult topic for the first time or see their pride in showing data from an experiment that they planned and executed on their own. I am excited to teach classes on a more regular basis and help students in my lab become accomplished scientists.

What drew you to UNL?

I was drawn to UNL by the combination of a highly intellectual group that performs exciting research as well as being incredibly supportive of each other. After visiting other universities it is obvious that UNL has a uniquely open and cooperative environment. Within my first weeks here I have been greeted by more people than I can count, offered the use of research equipment from people in and out of my department and encouraged to collaborate on grants so that I can get my foot in the door with funding agencies. I feel very fortunate to have such a supportive group backing me in this new stage of my life!

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I love working with students and seeing how their minds work. Sometimes I feel like I can see exactly how their thought process is progressing, and then there will be moments when they come up with a brilliant idea out of left field and I am blown away by their imagination and insight.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I think that becoming a professor is my greatest achievement. I had a very supportive family growing up but there have been many people along the way that have doubted the ability of a "nice girl from Minnesota" to become a professor at a research university. This has been a goal of mine for a long time and what I have worked toward for most of my life – I can’t wait to get started!

What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I recently took a semester-long, glass blowing class and discovered that blowing glass is one of my favorite activities. My creations might not be masterpieces, but I have fun making them.

What is your life like outside of work?
I enjoy the outdoors, reading, and trivia (I’m always ready to share strange facts!). I have a cat that "helps" me to do my work by sitting on me for hours so that I can’t leave my computer and am forced to get my data analysis or grant writing done. After being on the East Coast for so many years I am excited to spend time with my family on long weekends and relax a little in the wide open spaces of the Midwest.

Read more about Iverson's work during her postdoctorate fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a recent article published in Naturehttp://www.nature.com/news/nanotube-implants-show-diagnostic-potential-1.18219?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews