Research at Hendrix

Daniel Mwanza '01

Daniel Mwanza '01

Chemistry major, biology minor

Fellow, Section of Minimally Invasive, Bariatric and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Current projects

I am currently involved in several research projects that seek to investigate the long-term benefits of weight-loss surgery apart from just losing the weight. It has already been established that Diabetes Mellitus type II resolves after bariatric surgery. I am currently investigating other comorbid conditions that may resolve after the performance of such weight-loss surgery.

Undergraduate Research

While at Hendrix, I was involved in Dr. Tom Goodwin's organic chemistry research. We investigated chemical communication signals, pheromones, in female African elephant's urine. I presented our findings at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego. Part of our work contributed to a book chapter. This experience immediately catapulted me to the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, where I worked doing breast cancer research for a year before I entered medical school. While in medical school, I found myself in association with Dr. Mizinga of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences investigating on breast cancer.

How Hendrix prepared me for success

When I started at Hendrix, I was intimidated by the idea and thought of doing research. Dr. Goodwin used the classroom for the discussion of theories, and the lab was mainly for testing out theories discussed in the classroom. I found this less daunting and more interesting. I was curious to find out how we would go about setting up to test theories that masters of organic chemistry had previously established centuries before! Hendrix had evoked in me a boiling curiosity of how stuff worked. I could not wait to get to the lab to set up and start finding out answers. My understanding of many core principles of science, particularly chemistry, was enhanced. Hendrix helped me acquire basic research principles that I have continued to utilize even in complex projects.

Future plans

I plan to continue my work in medical research. Medical research is replete with exceptional opportunities for making life saving discoveries. I see myself continuing to do research alongside my work as a surgeon.

My advice

Today's science students are the future of scientific research. The overall outlook of scientific research will be dependent on young minds willing enough to gladly take on the task of finding answers, explanations, cures, and remedies. This work begins at Hendrix College.