George explaining poster

For 10 weeks, nine underclassmen from all over the country have been working in Duke labs. They presented their research findings in a poster presentation on July 25.

GCB partnered with the Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine and North Carolina Central University to launch the Summer Scholars Program in Genome Sciences and Medicine, supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH. The program is designed for full-time first- and second-year underrepresented minority (URM) students to provide a high-quality mentored training experience in a STEM-related field.

Summer Scholar David Mangum standing in front of his poster“It was my first internship,” David Mangum, incoming sophomore from UNC-Greensboro, said. “I feel like I can use the knowledge I learned here for the rest of my life.”

For most of these students, this was their first lab experience. “I learned a lot about research and the process it entails,” said Brianna Bowman. “There was a lot I didn’t know about, like what post-docs do versus lab techs versus principal investigators, and I got to see how a project would come together – from getting the grant to publishing the paper.

Each summer scholar was assigned to a faculty mentor and research project based on their interests. This year’s mentors were Jenny Tung, Doug Marchuk, Ornit Chiba-Falek, Tim Reddy, Beth Sullivan, Paul Magwene, David MacAlpine, Raluca Gordân and Raphael Valdivia. “My lab mentors and PI were really interested in teaching me the techniques I needed to do my work,” said Eliud Rivas-Hernandez from the University of Puerto Rico. “I know I want to continue doing research.”

Summer Scholar Savoya Joyner standing in front of her posterWhen the students weren’t in the lab, they spent time meeting with other researchers at Duke, NCCU, and companies in Research Triangle Park to learn about career options in genome sciences and medicine. “This experience solidified my career path. I know for sure that I want to be a surgeon,” NCCU student Savoya Joyner said.

This year’s summer scholars hailed from Duke, NCCU, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of North Carolina – Greensboro, California State University – Monterey Bay, and the University of Puerto Rico. “Learning from my colleagues in the program and their different backgrounds from high school, college and research experience has been a really positive experience,” Duke student Naeema Hopkins-Kotb said. “I’ve learned from them every day.” Naeema plans to continue her research in the fall through an independent study.

Originally published July 27, 2018

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