Sure, you can learn science from a book, but what fun is that?
For the next year, three Oklahoma City University students will split their time between the classroom and the labs of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, where they will work with scientists on cutting-edge research.
This marks the beginning of a new partnership between OMRF and OCU that will bring three top biology students each year to see first-hand what goes into top-level research.
“This provides opportunities for OCU students to work with international-caliber research scientists in state-of-the-art facilities,” said Susan Barber, Ph.D., associate provost and biology professor at Oklahoma City University. “They will learn what it means to work in a dedicated research environment and see first-hand how integral collaboration and creativity are to scientific discovery.”
Each of the students will work on projects related to ongoing OMRF research, with a focus on publishing a research paper at the conclusion of their time in the lab, said OMRF Director of Research Administration Tim Mather, Ph.D.
“We hope the students will receive invaluable experience, but they’re not the only ones benefitting from this partnership,” he said. “Students will ask the question nobody else thinks to ask. They think outside the box because they don’t know what the box is.”
Mather is supervising the program, while OCU biology department chair Kent Buchanan, Ph.D., and OCU biology professor Helen Gaudin, Ph.D., are helping to mentor the students.
The initial participants in the program will be:
- Chris Ayres, a biomedical sciences freshman, who is working with Lijun Xia, M.D., Ph.D., in OMRF’s Cardiovascular Biology Research Program.
- Chester Hendershot, a cell and molecular biology sophomore, who will study cardiovascular biology in the lab with Jana Barlic, Ph.D.
- Emily Sanders, a cell and molecular biology freshman, who is partnered with Darise Farris, Ph.D., in OMRF’s Arthritis and Immunology Research Program.
The OCU students will help OMRF study a variety of problems, from how certain proteins may offer protection against heart disease to why the body sometimes turns the weapons of its own immune system against itself.
“We’re excited to team up with OCU,” said Mather. “Students bring bright minds, eager hands and fresh eyes to our research.”