Ryan Cooper knows the value of research, whether it's talking to mayors from throughout Idaho about what makes their cities tick or working in a biochemistry laboratory on a research project that could someday lead to the development of new, more effective antibiotics.
Cooper, a senior biology major from Meridian, Idaho, is a research assistant for Boise State's Centre for Creativity and Innovation. He works with center director and international business professor Dr. Nancy Napier to understand the characteristics of creative cities. He's fine-tuned a Creative Cities Index that compares Boise, Portland and Seattle, and is also working on a new index that compares the characteristics of Idaho's cities.
In addition, Cooper recently completed a research fellowship in the lab of biochemistry assistant professor Dr. Ken Cornell. He worked with Dr. Cornell on research that involves the identification of new targets for antimicrobial drug development. In laboratory experiments, Cooper and other students genetically expressed target proteins from various pathogenic microbes for inhibition studies.
"Research has really made my undergraduate career," said Cooper, who plans to go to medical school after graduating from Boise State in May 2008. “I've had wonderful opportunities to conduct research and work with some outstanding professors.”
Cooper will incorporate his research from the Center for Creativity and Innovation into a thesis required for graduation from Boise State's Honors College. The project involves identifying the characteristics that make cities creative and innovative, assessing to what extent a particular city has those characteristics, and then using computer tools to quantify the data into an index. The index enables city planners, industry leaders, and others to assess their city's weaknesses and strengths for creativity and innovation, and also compare their city's scores with those of other cities.
While it's easy to see how Cooper's research in Dr. Cornell's lab has direct relevance to someday becoming a physician, his work for the Center for Creativity and Innovation may at first not appear to have such a direct connection. But Cooper says that working on the business project has taught him valuable skills that will help him in the future.
"This project, like all good research, has generated many more questions than it has answered. It requires me to think critically," Cooper said. "That's something I'll certainly be able to transfer to a variety of situations."