Research opportunities inspire students
by Alex Jackson
While most students were relaxing during a break from school, a few bright young people from the S. C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) spent their summer at MUSC learning more about their favorite subjects.
For the fifth year, an elite group of high school students from around the state spent the summer working with scientific researchers through a partnership between GSSM, MUSC, and other research facilities.
Students for the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics spent six weeks at MUSC performing experiments and analyzing data.
Seven rising seniors spent six weeks at the medical center performing experiments and analyzing data. Based on their chosen field of biomedical science, they were teamed up with researchers in molecular biology, pharmaceutical sciences, and/or genetics working on cures for various illnesses.
“It’s so amazing,” said Whitney Tucker, a senior at GSSM. She assisted in cancer research and conducted cytokine conditioning for adoptive cell transfer with her mentor, Claudia Marcella Diaz-Montero, Ph.D., Darby Children’s Research Institute. In expressing her appreciation to MUSC for the opportunity, she said, “I couldn’t believe I was working to find a cure for cancer.”
In the future, Whitney said she would like to become an epidemiologist and work for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Danielle Mumford, a senior at GSSM, participated in bone disorders and gene mutation research with Sakamuri Reddy, Ph.D. “Danielle is very ambitious and goal-oriented,” Reddy said. Danielle has a passion for science and math, and likes how the human body works. “It’s been pretty intense and challenging here at MUSC, but I love a good challenge,” Danielle said.
Meanwhile, Christine Hang performed research at the Hollings Cancer Center with Dennis Watson, Ph.D., a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. Christine studied normal mammary gland developmental processes and compared them to different stages of breast cancer. Christine came by her interest in science naturally. Her mother is a chemist and her father is a biochemist. She said she’s loved science since childhood, and credits her parents for sound advice and support. They also have helped her understand scientific terminology and research practices, she said.
“The Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics and MUSC provides a challenging program that allows students to learn, study, and perform research,” said Thong Hang, Christine’s father.
The College of Graduate Studies, which sponsors the program at MUSC, has received positive feedback from the participating mentors.
“The faculty enjoy working with the students because they are focused, intense and are excellent students,” said Debbie Shoemaker, program coordinator of the College of Graduate Studies.
“There were a superb group of mentors that knew how to challenge the students,” said Murray Brockman, Ph.D., president of the residential GSSM.
Perry Halushka, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said, “These are some of the best high school students we’ve ever had during the summer doing research. Their performances in the lab and presentations have been outstanding.”
“It is exciting to see these young people have their dreams come true by participating in the summer program,” Reddy said.
The intellectual investment of a summer often translates into huge dividends for GSSM students as they prepare for the future. Graduates of GSSM have become students and doctors at MUSC.
“We hope that we will increase the number of students in the years to come given the growth of research enterprise on campus,” Halushka said.
Friday, Aug. 15, 2008