Pitch perfect: Nutrition student named research fellow

Micah Battson, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, was one of 14 Colorado State University graduate students who successfully pitched their way to recognition as a Research Fellow in the Vice President for Research’s 3 Minute Challenge.

3 Minute Challenge

Micah Battson
Micah Battson

Battson presented “Microbes: Friend or Foe? Linking Gut Microbiota to Heart Disease.” Students had just three minutes to summarize their research as judges from across the university scored them on their presentations.

“I will admit it was a bit challenging to condense three years of research into three minutes and keep it exciting and understandable,” Battson said. “Luckily, I enjoy teaching, and my parents got me into theater as a kid, so I don’t mind presenting in front of a room of people.”

“As a graduate student, most of my time is spent either in the lab collecting and analyzing data or at a computer reading and writing papers,” Battson continued. “The 3 Minute Challenge gave me an opportunity to step back from the details of our experiments and think broadly about their relevance to human health and the field of biomedical research.”

Research project

Battson is pursuing his Ph.D. in the lab of Associate Professor Chris Gentile in collaboration with Associate Professor Tiffany Weir. He is researching how harmful changes to the gut microbiome may be linked to damage in blood vessels.

“This is important because blood vessel damage is the initial step towards heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.,” Battson said. “We hope to identify effective therapeutics, such as customized probiotics, to reverse blood vessel damage caused by an unhealthy diet and obesity. If successful, our work may also translate to other causes of heart disease such as aging and diabetes and hopefully lead to alternative treatment options for this disease.”

Battson is originally from Santa Barbara, California. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in biochemistry, Battson attended CU-Boulder, where he began his research studies in integrative physiology. In 2014, he came to CSU to pursue his Ph.D. in Food Science and Human Nutrition in order to broaden his understanding of how metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of developing heart disease.

Fellowship ‘invaluable’

As a VPR Research Fellow, Battson will receive $4,000 in scholarship and travel support. Fellows also participate in professional development workshops, mentorship, leadership and engagement opportunities over the 2017-18 academic year.

Watch Battson’s presentation:

“In addition to the generous scholarship and travel support, the VPR fellowship will provide me the opportunity to connect with scholars from other disciplines at CSU and other universities,” Battson said. “The networking, as well as other professional development opportunities, will be invaluable as I approach graduation and continue on my career path.”

As he enters his final year of graduate studies, Battson is considering career opportunities both in and out of academia where he can integrate his diverse training to improve human health and combat chronic disease. “Any potential employers are welcome to contact me!” he said.

In the meantime, Battson is keeping busy as the captain of his rec softball team made up primarily of FSHN graduate students, their significant others and friends. He and his wife are planning a two-week trip this summer to backpack in all five of Utah’s national parks.

Battson is also an avid dancer. “If we can find time in our busy schedules, my wife and I hope to start teaching swing and blues dancing in Fort Collins,” he said.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.