news-category: Undergraduate Research

Gardner-Webb Pre-Med Student Participates in Elite Research Opportunity

Jared Reeder poses in the UNC-Charlotte Department of Chemistry Nanoscale Bioengineering
Jared Reeder, a senior at Gardner-Webb, was one of 10 students chosen to participate in the Research Experience for Undergraduates at UNC-Charlotte's Nanoscale Bioengineering Lab.

Jared Reeder, ’23, One of 10 Chosen for Bioengineering Program

While gaining lab experience for medical school, Jared Reeder, of Asheboro, N.C., is participating in pre-eminent research. The Gardner-Webb University senior biology major is working with a synthetic chemistry project, studying how bacterial surface sugars are structure.

With encouragement from his GWU professors, Reeder applied for and was accepted into the UNC-Charlotte Department of Chemistry Nanoscale Bioengineering REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). He is grateful for the opportunity, because a hundred students from around the country apply for the 10 positions in the program.

He defines and describes the lab’s important work: “Biosynthesis is the body or organism creating complex molecules. Bacterial polysaccharide biosynthesis is the process bacteria go through to make these complex sugars that coat their outer surface. If we gain understanding through fluorescent tags on how these sugars repeat themselves on the outside of certain bacteria, this can help scientists find new ways to target them through anti-bacterial agents.”

Reeder said interactions with professors and his GWU classes in organic chemistry, chemical biology and enzymology apply to his work in the lab. “What I value the most from my Gardner-Webb experience so far is the mentorship from professors, such as Dr. Meredith Rowe and Dr. Wilson Hawkins,” Reeder affirmed. “These two professors have encouraged me to pursue hard things and to never be content just doing what other students are also doing. Research often requires relentless hours of trial and error. My failures and successes so far this summer have all been wonderful learning experiences that would not have been possible without being pushed by these wonderful professors.”

In 2021, Jared Reeder participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Gardner-Webb.

Further, participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Gardner-Webb and the UNC-Charlotte program has helped him to realize that graduate schools look deeper than a student’s grades. “While it is certainly important to earn stellar grades while in undergrad, what many lab groups look for in their incoming PhD students is the ability to think critically and solve real-world problems, not just problems in a book,” Reeder observed. “By pursuing these opportunities during undergrad, I believe that the transition into graduate school will be much smoother.”

Because of these benefits, his advice to incoming freshmen is to focus on the present. “Create meaningful relationships with those who will push you closer to your goals,” he stated. “Find some extracurriculars that bring you fulfillment and immerse yourself in them—these will bring you so many amazing experiences in the long run.”

Reeder’s interest in the medical field began when family members spent time in the hospital for cancer treatments. “The doctors who served my family all those years treated my family as if they were their own family,” he reflected. “I just want to live a meaningful life and give my future patients the quality of care that I would want my own personal family to receive.”

His goal is to work at a metropolitan academic medical center in fetal medicine or pediatrics. “I continue to develop a deeper interest in cancers within utero and early childhood,” he explained. “Using my research experiences at Gardner-Webb, my dream is to pursue an MD or an MD/PhD joint program, working with patients clinically as well as on my own personal research.”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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