From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

Student Feature: Hunter Collins

Dec 24, 2013 | Student Feature

Hunter CollinsHunter Collins is a doctoral student in the Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology program at Louisiana Tech. He grew up in Haughton, LA and graduated from LSU in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences. Hunter decided to take a year off before starting graduate school, a time in which he worked in the oil field as a floor hand on a workover rig. “I can honestly say that I learned more about life during this year than I did during the 4 years I was in college as an undergraduate,” Hunter explained. “I also developed a deep appreciation for the education I was fortunate enough to earn during those 4 years. It did not take me long to decide that I wanted to continue my education.” Hunter began his graduate education as a Masters student in the Biology program. When applying to the program, Hunter met with Dr. Bill Campbell to discuss what the program was like and what he could expect. He was still considering other graduate programs at the time but after talking with Dr. Campbell, he immediately decided that Louisiana Tech was going to be a perfect fit for him. “Dr. Campbell was extremely warm and welcoming, ” Hunter noted, “and he made me feel like I would be part of a family if I chose to come to Louisiana Tech to pursue my Masters. Many of the faculty and other graduate students in the Biology department are now like a second family to me. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of guidance and support that I have received since I have been at Louisiana Tech. I feel very privileged to be part of the exciting and innovative research that is being conducted here.” As a graduate student, Hunter had the opportunity to receive a Teaching Assistantship for the BISC 260 Microbiology Lab . This led him to his advisor and one of the most influential people in his life so far, Dr. Patrick Hindmarsh.  Dr. Hindmarsh’s lab works with the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. C. albicans is a species of yeast that is the 4th most commonly acquired hospital infection in the United States. Hunter’s research is mainly focused on discovering new antifungal therapies for treating C. albicans infections and the mechanisms behind antifungal resistance in C. albicans. He is currently investigating a potentially new and undocumented mechanism that can give rise to antifungal resistance in C. albicans. This discovery could lead to new strategies for overcoming the growing issue of antifungal resistance in C. albicans. When Hunter heard that Louisiana Tech would be getting a Ph.D. program in Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology, he jumped at the opportunity to stay at Tech and continue his research. As soon as the program was approved by the Board of Regents, Hunter switched from the Masters program to the Ph.D. program. Hunter acknowledges that Louisiana Tech has afforded him many opportunities during his time here, under the guidance and support of excellent faculty. To foster more such interactions, Hunter has begun to develop an infrastructure in the Biology department for graduate students and faculty to come together in a more informal atmosphere to exchange ideas and to build relationships with each other. One of the many goals of this endeavor is to foster a unified and collaborative atmosphere between graduate students and faculty where graduate students can maximize the opportunities available to them through mentoring from the faculty members. “My hope is that the graduate students can take what they have gained from being mentored by the faculty members and go on to begin mentoring undergraduates. My parents always told me growing up to leave things better than when I found them. My hope is that I will leave Louisiana Tech as a better place than when I arrived and I will continue to do whatever I can to make Louisiana Tech the best it can be.” Louisiana Tech is a better place because of Hunter Collins, and he is proving to be a great leader to initiate Tech’s newest doctoral program.