The Fleming Scholar Program was founded in 1956 as a way to give Oklahoma’s high school and college students “hands-on” biomedical research experience. The program is named for Sir Alexander Fleming, the famed British scientist, who discovered penicillin and in 1949 came to Oklahoma City to formally dedicate the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s first building. In the first news release about the program in 1956, the late Dean A. McGee, then Chairman of the Board of Directors’ Executive Committee, expressed the philosophy behind the program:
“We feel that students will greatly benefit from the opportunity of working shoulder-to-shoulder in the laboratories with our scientific personnel. Our scientists feel also that in this way they can make a direct contribution to the solution of the critical manpower shortage in the field of biology and medical research. We are shorthanded in terms of having adequate staff to do the job of expanding our knowledge in the field of human health, and perhaps by this program, we will be helping identify and stimulate the scientists of tomorrow.”
In 1982, the Fleming Scholar Program became a model for a national program funded by the federal government to bring the best and brightest high school and college students into contact with the best and brightest scientific and mathematical minds in government and non-government laboratories.
Today the Fleming Scholar Program remains popular, attracting as many as 100 applicants each year.
To be eligible for the Fleming Scholar Program, applicants must be:
An Oklahoma resident at the time of high school graduation.
At least 16 years of age.
Classified as a high school senior or college freshman, sophomore or junior at the time of application submission.
A United States citizen or permanent resident or have unrestricted employment authorization in accordance with applicable Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations (example: J-2 – with Employment Authorization Document). Applicants with an H-4 visa are noteligible.
Willing and able to commit to the program’s entire eight-week time frame, which begins the first Monday following Memorial Day.
Scholars are selected based on aptitude and interest in science and math, academic standing, essays and recommendation letters written as part of the application process.
Applicants must submit all of the following by the February 1 deadline:
Application Form — Access and complete theGeneral Application via the online applicant tracking system.
Transcripts — Attach your unofficial transcript(s) via the online application system when prompted to add “Transcript 1, 2 and/or 3”. College students must submit both high school and college transcripts.
Essay — Attach your long essay response via the online application system when prompted to add “Essay”. Your essay should describe why you wish to participate in biomedical research for eight weeks at OMRF. We are especially interested in how well you formulate your ideas and express them. You might want to explain how an interest, experience, or project led to your better understanding of a scientific principle or how you displayed critical analysis and creativity in solving a problem. Please do NOT exceed two pages.
Recommendation Letters — References must send a recommendation letter on their organization’s letterhead. Send a minimum of two and maximum of three recommendation letters directly to the Fleming Scholar Selection Committee, via e-mailFlemingScholars@omrf.org. or mail: OMRF Fleming Scholar Program, 825 NE 13th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104.
It is preferred that the entire application packet be submitted electronically however if not possible, items other than the application form may be submitted via any of the following avenues:
The Fleming Scholar Selection Committee will select up to 25 finalists to interview. Interviews will be early to mid March.Out-of-state applicants can interview via Skype or phone. All applicants will be notified of their standing by late February or early March.
The program runs for eight weeks beginning the Monday after Memorial Day. Since the program is so rigorous and intense, scholars must commit to the entire time frame.
HOW are Fleming Scholars selected?
Each year a committee of OMRF employees, mostly scientists, selects the Fleming Scholars. All complete applications received by the appointed deadline are reviewed by selection committee members. After this initial review, the committee meets to select up to 25 applicants to interview in person, via Skype or phone. Following the interviews, the committee selects as many scholars as there are mentors and funding available. Three or four alternates are named as well.
WHEN are Fleming Scholar selection results available?
The 25 semi-finalists, as well as those not selected, are notified in late February or early March. Then, interviews occur in early to mid-March. Final results are available following the interviews.
WHAT do Fleming Scholars do?
Fleming scholars work in state-of-the-art biomedical research laboratories on individual projects and are supervised by senior members of the OMRF scientific staff. Every effort is made to assign scholars to laboratories conducting research of particular interest to them. The scholars attend weekly seminars as well as occasional social events as a group (see “WHAT about fun stuff?” below).
On the final day of the program, scholars give formal scientific seminars outlining the findings of their projects. Parents, teachers, OMRF staff and other guests are invited to attend. Each scholar also writes a scientific paper summarizing his/her summer project. Those papers may be published online and are available to download.
WHEN does the program start?
Fleming Scholars work at OMRF for eight weeks typically in the months of June and July. Their first day is the Sunday or Monday after Memorial Day.
WHERE do scholars live?
Housing is provided to eligible scholars at the student apartments located on the University of Central Oklahoma campus. Scholars are assigned in groups of two or four per unit.
WHAT about transportation?
OMRF does not provide transportation to and from work. Group transportation is provided to some social events, but most often, scholars are responsible for their own transportation.
WHAT about meals?
Breakfast is provided at no cost to all scholars every work day morning in the OMRF Research Café . Otherwise, scholars are responsible for their own meals. Lunches may be purchased in the Research Café at the employee discount, which averages around $6.00 per meal. Evening meals are the responsibility of each scholar, with the exception of the meals provided at social events.
WHAT do scholars wear?
As a safety precaution, scholars should wear long pants and closed-toed shoes to work. Jeans are acceptable, as are athletic shoes. Lab work can be messy so scholars must dress appropriately and avoid wearing torn clothes, dangling jewelry, etc. Lab coats, safety goggles, and any other necessary protective gear will be provided.
DO scholars have to commit to the full eight weeks?
The Fleming Scholar Program is rigorous and intense. Eight weeks is quite a short time to initiate—and complete—a detailed scientific project. In fact, many scholars find it necessary to return to OMRF in the weeks following the program in order to complete their experiments and put the finishing touches on their papers. An absence of even a few days can make it difficult for a scholar to catch up before the program ends. Therefore, scholars are required to commit in advance to attendance for the entire eight weeks of the program.
MAY a person apply again if not selected the first time?
As long as the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for the program, he/she may apply to the program for as many years as desired. So, from senior year (high school) to junior year (college), candidates may conceivably apply once each year. Many scholars have been selected on their second or even third try, so anyone who is unsuccessful the first time is encouraged to apply again.
HOW many times can someone be a Fleming scholar?
Being a Fleming Scholar is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The program was established with the purpose of affording this unique chance to as many gifted, science-minded students as possible.
WHERE do scholars go for help?
The Human Resources Department is available to provide any assistance before, during and after the program. Scholars will also be assigned to mentors or their designees who to support scientific endeavors. Resident Assistants (RAs) are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the provided housing. Scholars are expected to maintain the utmost professionalism at all times, as are all OMRF employees. This opportunity is full of fun, but ultimately it is a job.
WHEN do scholars get paid?
Scholars are paid an hourly rate commensurate with their relevant educational level. Paychecks are distributed the last working day of each month.
WHAT about fun stuff?
While the work is challenging and even, on occasion overwhelming, there is still plenty of fun associated with the Fleming Scholar Program. Scholars are invited into the home of OMRF’s President for dinner and socializing. Other group activities are also arranged for the scholars, such as cultural and other social events.
Upcoming 2017 Scholars…
2016 Fleming Scholars
Nicole Biddinger, Bartlesville, Purdue University
Andrew Blattler, Oklahoma City, Mount St. Mary
Zane Dennis, Tulsa, Baylor University
Michael Harmon, Enid, Chisholm High School
Uday Kohli, Edmond, University of Oklahoma
Joey Maher, Yukon, Harding Charter Preparatory High School
Evan McKinnis, Oklahoma City, Classen School of Advanced Studies
Annelise Poss, Tulsa, Oklahoma State University
Lindsey Purcell, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma State University
Caroline Say, Oklahoma City, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dat Truong, Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma
Ariel Thorson, Oklahoma City, Bethany High School
Emily Wilkie, Oklahoma City, Classen School of Advanced Studies
John H. Saxon Service Academy Summer Research Program Students
Thomas Hentges, Boise, ID, US Naval Academy
Robert Pahissa, Carson, WA, US Air Force Academy
George Peng, Severn, MD, US Naval Academy