BSPS student working in organ transplant research lab prepares for a future in medical school


February 20, 2023

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College of Pharmacy Student Spotlight: Kavya Koneru, BSPS Class of 2024

The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy is shining a spotlight on students throughout the year. Meet Kavya Koneru, a third-year Bachelor of Science of Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) student from Louisville, Kentucky.

Koneru is a patient care assistant (PCA) at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC-James), a president of a food pantry student organization and a research assistant for Ginny Bumgardner, MD, PhD, transplant surgeon at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC) and professor of transplant surgery at the Ohio State College of Medicine.

Koneru’s educational and extracurricular experiences are preparing her for her next step as a PhD or medical school student.

Why did you choose the BSPS program?

I knew that I wanted to do something in health care but wasn’t sure exactly what. I have a strong interest in chemistry and knowing that the BSPS program centers around pharmaceuticals, I thought the College of Pharmacy would be the perfect fit for me. The college is also a lot smaller than other colleges across campus, so I knew that I would be able to get to know my professors better.

The electives have been super helpful, health care-focused and apply to so much more than pharmaceuticals. You get the STEM focus centered around health care, which is what I like.

What extracurriculars are you involved in?

I wanted to get more experience in patient care so this summer I started a job at OSUCCC-James as a PCA. Training through the hospital has been nice and I love that I help the nurses care for patients. As a PCA I track vitals, make sure the patients are getting bathed regularly, help the nurses move the patients around, track their meals and make sure they are comfortable. Patients of OSUCCC-James are there for an extended period of time.

I am also president of the Food Recovery Network, which is a student organization on campus where we go to all the dining hall locations around campus, pick up extra food and donate it to local pantries. It’s nice because we have a lot of support from Ohio State’s Zero Waste network committee. Even though this organization isn’t related to the BSPS degree, it’s still a great way to get involved and help people. I am super passionate about the organization and I have met a lot of students, faculty and staff through it.

Tell me about your experiences with research

I am a research assistant in Dr. Bumgardner’s lab, which focuses on organ transplant research. Currently, we are working on treatments to prevent organ transplant rejection. It’s not pharmaceutical sciences but I really find the work interesting.

Working through Dr. Bumgardner’s lab has been a good way to learn more about research and understand the biomedical aspect of it.

The lab is small, too, so I get more one-on-one attention from her. Since I have been considering going to medical school or getting my PhD, Dr. Bumgardner has been a great mentor; I can see what getting an MD or PhD entails while also asking her career questions.

Even though I am a BSPS major, I am not centered on one thing. I like the opportunities that the campus provides, including working in this research lab.

How has research enriched your time at Ohio State?

I love having the opportunity to participate in research activities because in research, I get to explore and acquire more knowledge. With lectures, I am only learning from what someone else has already discovered.

Research also makes what I am learning in class more applicable to real life. It’s easy to go to class and learn from a lecture or textbook, but as I’ve been doing research, I get a deeper understanding of what I’ve already learned in class.

How do you see your education shaping your future?

I think the BSPS program and the opportunities across campus have been a big part in deciding what I want to do after graduation. The program and these opportunities have confirmed that I am more of a chemistry person than biology.

I like that all the classes I have taken so far have shown what the pharmaceutical industry is like, how we can make it better and how to best counsel patients. Everything is super applicable to the future. Classes in general have shown me that I am interested in medicine because we go into what a lot of health care professionals do in the field and what research is like.

I took an intro to research class that showed me how to get involved. It pushed me to seek out a lab and it showed me that I love research and I want to do that in my career. I am not sure exactly what I want to do with it yet but I think this is a great first step.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Take advantage of BSPS electives outside the core content classes. The electives give you great insight into the health care industry as a whole. While we talk about the pharmaceutical industry a lot, we also talk about other health care professions and their roles.

Make sure you’re seeking out opportunities because there are a lot of people out there who want to help you. I met a lot of people who are in medical school after graduating from the BSPS program, and it’s been super nice making those connections. They’ve helped me so much as I’ve been deciding my next steps.


Upcoming event for students accepted into the program:

I am BSPS!

March 24 & April 10

We are excited to host you and your family at the College of Pharmacy for this interactive and informative event. This event will include the following (subject to change):

  1. Program Overview
  2. Interactive Presentation
  3. College of Pharmacy Tour
  4. Student Panel
  5. And much more!

This event is designed to be informative and hands-on to show students why the College of Pharmacy, BSPS and Ohio State is their next home away from home!