Jenny Wendlick: Undergraduate Researcher Profile

Jenny Wendlick (class of 2019) began conducting research in Jennifer Gutzman’s lab during her freshman year. The work in Dr. Gutzman’s lab uses embryonic zebrafish to study brain development. The first fold in the brain, formation of the midbrain-hindbrain boundary, is conserved in all vertebrates and the zebrafish allows researchers to study this process in the live embryo. Findings from this work can help us better understand the development of birth defects related to the formation of the brain and spinal cord.

Jenny started out volunteering her time in the lab as a freshman and learned the basics of how to care for thousands of zebrafish each day, how to tell a male from a female, and how to collect hundreds of small embryos for her studies. By the time Jenny graduated, she had mastered embryo microinjection, micromanipulation, and live embryonic brain imaging using confocal microscopy.

Jenny began presenting her independent research as a sophomore at the UWM Undergraduate Research Symposium in 2017 where she won a best poster prize. Jenny’s strong commitment and effort in the lab helped her obtain two UWM SURF awards (Support for Undergraduate Research Fellowships) in 2017 and 2018. The work that Jenny accomplished with these fellowships earned her co-authorship on a manuscript published in the journal Development, that was later was recommended by Faculty 1000. Jenny’s undergraduate research was also highlighted in the UWM Research Magazine, and in 2019 she won the UWM campus-wide best undergraduate oral presentation award at the UWM Undergraduate Research symposium, and again she won the best undergraduate talk award the UWM Biological Sciences symposium. We fully expect that the work Jenny completed in her senior year studying the role of the basement membrane in brain tissue folding will earn her an additional co-authorship on a publication in the near future.

Jenny was an essential part of the Gutzman lab research group up until she graduated in Spring 2019. Jenny is currently working as a Product Surveillance Associate at the biopharmaceutical company Merz North America. Jenny notes that “My involvement in undergraduate research significantly enhanced my problem-solving skills, making my process much more effective while troubleshooting complex issues in my current job. Additionally, my attention to detail was greatly refined by my experience, which is essential for maintaining the clear and accurate records my job depends on.”

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