Honors Student Studies New Possibilities for Cancer Immunology

Abhishek Bagale Completes Senior Honors Thesis Focused on Cancer Prevention

Abhishek Bagale in his Kent State residence hall with a mask on.
Abhishek Bagale is a senior Honors College student majoring in biotechnology and minoring in chemistry. Before graduating this spring, Abhishek plans to defend his Senior Honors Thesis in April. Abhishek first became interested in the thesis program in the spring of 2019, when he joined Dr. Gary Koski’s research lab on cancer immunology. Working with the graduate and postdoctoral students in Dr. Koski’s lab inspired Abhishek to conduct similar research of his own.

Dr. Koski’s lab focuses on using the body’s existing immune system to ward off cancer cells, so when Abhishek asked Dr. Koski to be his thesis advisor, he began his thesis research by examining how a specific group of chemicals interacted with the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Unfortunately, the data did not support Abhishek’s first hypothesis that the chemicals would work together with the immune system to kill tumor cells. “It was really pretty frustrating,” Abhishek recalls, but instead of abandoning his research, Abhishek worked with Dr. Koski to find a new drug to study. Abhishek began researching the inhibitor for gamma-secretase, hypothesizing that the chemical would cooperate with the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells. After collecting and analyzing his data, Abhishek was excited to see the chemical following his prediction. Though there remain many immunology studies to conduct with this chemical, Abhishek found a stopping point in his research so that he could write his thesis, which he will orally defend in April.

When asked about his interest in cancer immunology, Abhishek said, “I just love science. The disease is so complex; scientists have worked on this for decades and we are still trying to solve it.”  Researching cancer immunology gives Abhishek a sense of purpose, adding, “There’s a thrill that I am solving something new each day; you see new details every day, and sometimes you have to change your whole hypothesis, but you just see where it takes you and it all ends up working out.” Not only does Abhishek find cancer immunology interesting, but his honors thesis will also make him a competitive graduate school applicant. Hoping to study cancer in graduate school, Abhishek notes that conducing his own research taught him how to analyze raw data and how to organize his data analysis into a cogent essay. Both of these skills are important for graduate-level work and will help Abhishek succeed in his future academic career. He also says that working in the same space as busy graduate students helped Abhishek develop strong interpersonal communication skills, learning how to pitch ideas in an efficient, direct manner.

If he could offer any advice to his fellow honors students, Abhishek would encourage his peers to pursue an honors thesis for the sake of self-directed learning. He adds, “Having a goal is a must, but if you have one rigid goal and you don’t meet it, you’re going to be disappointed.” Instead of becoming attached to any one result for a thesis, Abhishek encourages students to “Just do science for the sake of science.” Abhishek argues that, if students are flexible with their expectations and find a thesis advisor who will help them adapt their hypotheses along the way, honors students will graduate with a strong thesis.

Abhishek is thankful to all the faculty members who supported him throughout his thesis project, and he is excited to continue studying cancer in graduate school.

For more information about the Senior Honors Thesis/Project, please contact Lori Michael, Senior Honors Thesis Coordinator.


PHOTO CAPTION 1: Abhishek Bagale standing outside of the College of Architecture & Environmental Design building.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Abhishek wearing a mask in his Kent State residence hall.

Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312

POSTED: Monday, March 08, 2021 04:39 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 01, 2023 08:24 PM
Olivia Wachtel, Honors College Writing Intern