It was crystallography, not a crystal ball, which gave some University of Central Oklahoma students a look into the future.
A group of UCO chemistry students toured the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Friday and found their current studies might be a sign of careers to come. Senior members of the Chemistry Club got an up-close look at the state-of-the-art facilities at OMRF, including the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, the Flow Cytometry facility and the Crystallography laboratory.
“We have labs at UCO that are pretty well-equipped, but it was great to see real-life use of that equipment here at OMRF,” senior Heather Tournear said. “We’ve been studying apoptosis in class, but it was really cool to see people studying it in person. The 3-D and digital imaging facilities were absolutely amazing.”
Tournear, of Luther, said the research facilities appeal to her because of family connections.
“My father died of meningitis, and my grandmother suffers from rheumatoid arthritis,” she said. “That has lit a fire in me to know more about disease and research. I’ve applied to a graduate program and hope to do research on viruses or immunology.”
Laura Powell, a senior from Yukon, said OMRF’s top-notch geneticists have her excited to get to work. She said exploring the mechanics of diseases, especially as passed down through generations in a family, is her passion.
In the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, students watched video of research subjects used by scientists to study the impact of disease. OMRF is home to a research-grade MRI that is four times as powerful as those found in most hospitals, and it will install a second, more powerful MRI later this year.
A tour of OMRF’s Crystallography laboratories yielded an even closer look as students saw molecular structures and components of living cells at atomic resolutions. It also gave them a chance to see what career researchers do every day.
“It was cool to see that Oklahoma has such top-notch research facilities,” said Edmond senior Michael Henderson. “I really like knowing that you don’t have to go out of state to work in research with state-of-the-art equipment.”
OMRF (omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Chartered in 1946, its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.