Lindsay Beck could have spent her summer reading, traveling or just enjoying the fact that she had finished high school. But when she was selected as a Fleming Scholar and offered the opportunity to do hands-on biomedical research for eight weeks, she jumped at the chance.
Since June 2, Beck has worked at OMRF in Oklahoma City with Dean Dawson, Ph.D., studying the roles certain proteins play in the process of cell division and how errors in the process can lead to infertility or birth defects, such as Down syndrome.
Beck, who will enter the University of Oklahoma as a chemical biosciences major this fall, is among 11 Oklahoma students selected for the prestigious program.
“I am the kid who got a microscope for Christmas—and who actually asked for one,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of everything that goes on in a lab and for my work to go toward something beneficial to the field. Through the Fleming Scholar Program, I’ve accomplished both. It truly is life-changing. ”
In addition to working in the lab, Fleming Scholars attend lectures by OMRF scientists to learn about various research projects and science-related career options. They attend social events and spend time together as a group outside the lab. At the end of the summer, scholars make formal presentations outlining their individual research results to OMRF’s scientists.
OMRF’s Fleming Scholar Program has served as a stepping stone for hundreds of Oklahoma students seeking careers in the sciences. Since 1956, more than 500 gifted science students have received a close-up, hands-on research experience as scholars. Scores of Fleming Scholars have gone on to establish medical and research careers, including two OMRF researchers, Rodger McEver, M.D., and Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., who got their start in the program.
“These students learn a lot here and are exposed to new concepts, but we learn from them, too,” said Carlisa Curry, Fleming Scholar Program director. “They bring enthusiasm and fresh perspectives into OMRF’s labs. It’s clear through what we see in these young people that the future for research is bright.”
For Beck, this summer has assured her that she’s on the right track. “There is so much out there to be discovered, and I wouldn’t want to miss my opportunity to contribute even a small part to that. I would like to pursue my M.D./Ph.D. degree and become a medical researcher. I’m in love with the job, and its implications are exciting. Now that I’ve gotten to live the life of a researcher, I know that it’s exactly what I want to do.”