SAU academic all-star researching DNA in New Zealand

Michelle Beavers researching in New ZealandAcademically-acclaimed Southern Arkansas University athlete Michelle Beavers competes in cross country, but she is across the globe this summer doing molecular biology research in New Zealand.

Beavers is a Chemistry Pre-Health and Biology Pre-Health double major with a 4.00 G.P.A. She was recently inducted into the 2014 Capital One Academic All-America® Second-Team.

But she had no time to slow down to celebrate the news as she is working with researchers at Kenepuru Science Center in New Zealand as a part of GlobaLinks Study Abroad. She is helping study methylation of DNA from adipose tissue in diabetic patients before and after gastric bypass surgery. The research group hopes to find a link between weight loss and the methylation of DNA.

Beavers, who was previously named to the Capital One Academic All-District® Seven First-Team, is one of three women All-America selections from the Great American Conference this year. She is the 10th overall student-athlete and first women’s cross-country runner from SAU to receive the prestigious national academic award.

Michelle Beavers in Louis Davis InvitationAs a cross country runner this past fall, Beavers finished 17th overall with a season-best time of 19:30 at the Great American Conference Championships, making her an All-GAC Second-Team runner.

Beavers admitted it is not easy being an athlete and a science double major.

“During meets, I am doing homework the whole ride up and back down. My trick is doing as much work as possible during the weekends to make the week a little easier. Dedication and commitment is key,” said Beavers. “Sometimes I skip out on get-togethers, but it’s ok because I know that I’m at school for academics first.”

Even though academics is most important to her, it was cross-country that initially enticed Beavers to look into SAU from her hometown of Metairie, La. She did her homework before officially accepting her academic and athletic scholarships.

“I made phone calls to the SAU Science Center to ask about 100 questions to make sure I was going to be well prepared for the MCAT. Cross-country got me to visit and helped me pay for school, but honestly, the Science Center was the reason I decided to attend SAU,” said Beavers.

Michelle Beavers researching in New ZealandSAU pre-health and pre-professional majors like Beavers enjoy customized advising to ensure each is prepared for his or her professional or medical school of choice. They also enjoy working hands-on with state-of-the-art equipment in the $17.2 million Science Center, which opened in 2010.

Beavers completed molecular biology research in the Science Center as well as psychology research as a part of the SAU Honors College to help earn her spot to study abroad this summer. She has also completed more than 200 volunteer hours in the hospital settings to prepare her for her future career as an oncologist. She chose to dedicate her career to helping cancer patients because of the inspiration they provide.

“I think people complain a lot over little things, like coffee not being made right or something like that. However, people in the oncology department have every right to complain, going through treatment and all, but they don’t complain. Even though some of them cannot even leave their rooms, they are just happy. They really treasure life, and I think I can learn so much from my patients while I’m with them every step of their treatment,” said Beavers.

To find out more about the SAU College of Science and Engineering, visit

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