Clinical anatomy stands out among the other Medical Center-based Ph.D. programs due to its focus on educational research. The students study the process of learning through the context of anatomy, arguably the most conserved area of health science professional training.
"I loved anatomy and teaching, and here was this program that blended the two," Meyer said.
While working on a literature review during his anatomy rotations, he came upon one of those factoids about the brain that makes you think.
"We typically forget 70 (percent) to 80 percent of what we learn within 30 days," Meyer said, citing studies on memory by Hermann Ebbinghaus. "So I started to think about a project for measuring and improving long-term retention, which is critical in anatomy."
Dr. Dongmei Cui, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, said "yes" to Meyer's dissertation idea and helped him develop a project to assess how virtual three-dimensional models of the middle and inner ear can help medical students learn their anatomy.
Beyond his research and teaching duties, Meyer became a presence on campus. Enough students voted "yes" to make him president of the Associated Student Body for 2018-19. During his tenure, he set several goals to encourage service learning, interprofessional education, and diversity and inclusion initiatives in partnership with other campus offices.
Meyer, then the Associated Student Body philanthropy co-chair, eats with a member of the UMMC Police and security team during an Associated Student Bod-hosted luncheon for National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in 2018.
"We also started hosting roundtable discussions where students could share their concerns or ideas for how to improve their experience, like increasing study spaces," Meyer said.
"Edgar has this 'can-do' enthusiasm and ability to connect with people that make him a valuable member of the graduate school, and he has done quite well here," said Dr. Joey Granger, dean of the Graduate School.
Granger had a running joke where each time he passes Meyer in the hall he asks, "How's that dissertation coming?" a nod to his busy schedule and looming deadline.
Meyer successfully defended in February, enough so that the SGSHS granted Meyer the 2019 Robert A. Mahaffey Jr. Award, which recognizes exceptional potential in a graduating student. The nomination letter speaks of his ability to communicate clearly with multiple groups of people and his sense of engagement on- and off-campus.
"You can never underestimate the importance of a relationship," Meyer said. "There are so many opportunities that start as an idea, and then through an email or a conversation, a connection forms and it morphs into something achievable."
One of the most important aspects of Meyer's life is his faith, shaped by his time teaching in a Catholic school and his training in an interprofessional health environment. He sees mind, body and soul all as important parts of helping people become well, especially in a region as steeped in religious tradition as the Bible Belt.