For many college students, summer means lazy days spent reading, traveling or simply enjoying time away from school. But instead of whiling away the hours, 13 college students sharpened their research skills as Fleming and Presidential Scholars at OMRF.
Each has worked alongside a senior-level OMRF scientist on a research project associated with ongoing work in that laboratory. Projects range from studying autoimmune diseases like lupus, the role of cell division in triggering cancer, managing exercise-induced pain in osteoarthritis and using high-tech equipment to study brain tumors.
“There is no instruction manual for what we do in the lab,” said Fleming Scholar Kevin Gaffney of Oklahoma City. “However, that’s part of the fun. I love tackling obstacles that require creativity and ingenuity to overcome.”
In addition to working in the lab, Fleming and Presidential 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 eight weeks on July 26, scholars will make formal presentations outlining their individual research results to OMRF’s scientists.
“This has been one of the most exciting and productive summers that I have ever had,” said Jones resident Isabel Vannarath. “If I had not done the Fleming Scholar Program, I would have never considered applying to MD/PhD programs. This program has shown me the value and practice of research.”
OMRF’s 2013 Fleming Scholars are:
· Jamin Brown, Woodward, Southwestern Oklahoma State University
· Cole Davis, Sand Springs, University of Oklahoma
· Nick Elroy, Marlow, Oklahoma State University
· Kevin Gaffney, Oklahoma City, Bishop McGuinness
· Jared Ontko, Oklahoma City, Classen School of Advanced Studies
· Aniruddha Parikh, Norman, Vanderbilt University
· Eleanor Sun, Edmond, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
· Isabel Vannarath, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
· Neal Walia, Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma
The Presidential Scholars for 2013 include:
· Conrad Fernandes, Edmond, Rice University
· Hirst Holloway, Oklahoma City, Heritage Hall High School
· Dominic Martin, Bangor, ME, Oklahoma State University
· Paige Parrack, Oklahoma City, Boston University
“It may seem cliché to say that this program has changed my life, but because of my newfound fascination with immunology, I’ve fine-tuned what I really want to do with my life,” Cole Davis of Sand Springs said. “I’m truly very grateful.”
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 programs provide a glimpse of cutting-edge science to these students at a crucial point in their academic careers,” said OMRF president Stephen Prescott, M.D. “It’s a way for our scientists to share the world of medical research with bright, young minds who, we hope, will join the battle against human disease.”