A personal mission

Grandmother inspires student researcher.

For Muriel Eaton, researching neurological proteins at Kansas State University is more than her part-time job or a launch pad for her future career. It is a personal mission for the junior biochemistry major from Leawood, Kansas.

Though she was always interested in studying science, Eaton’s focus narrowed when doctors diagnosed her grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease. After witnessing the grueling mental, emotional and financial toll on Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, Eaton wanted to make a difference.

“Alzheimer’s is so widespread and it affects everybody,” she said. “It’s really hard to watch people go through that.”

During a prospective tour of K-State, she met Dr. Jeroen Roelofs, assistant professor of biology, who researches proteasomes, which can be targeted for treatment of cancer and neurological diseases. Instantly interested in Roelofs’ research, Eaton began working as his laboratory assistant the summer before her freshman year at K-State.

With significant help from philanthropic gifts to the university, Roelofs often engages young people like Eaton in scientific research as early as possible.

“The students keep you motivated because they get so excited about the work,” Roelofs said, recalling how his undergraduate research experience advanced his own career. “It also helps the graduate students learn how to mentor and train someone in the lab. I think it’s a very positive experience for everyone.”

Eaton’s K-State journey is made possible largely through scholarships supported by K-State alumni and friends, including a scholarship gifted through the estate of June Hull Sherrid ’42. Eaton has been able to enjoy extracurricular involvement in Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry fraternity, the American Chemical Society and Pershing Rifle Company G-7, where she serves as a rifleman.

“I wouldn’t have been able to come to K-State if it wasn’t for scholarships,” she said. “I’m very fortunate that I’m able to do my research job, keep up with all my studies and also get involved in everything K-State has to offer.”

Read more about how a gift in your will or trust can support K-State. You can also contact the Gift Planning Department at 785-532-7531 or giftoptions@found.ksu.edu to learn more. 


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