Five Students in ABI Biotechnology Research Internships

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JONESBORO – Five Arkansas State University students are pursuing their interest in science this summer through the Biotechnology Research Internship Program at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) facility on campus.

The program’s purpose is to provide basic support for A-State undergraduate science majors who want research experience in life sciences or applications of life sciences during the summer of their sophomore or junior years.

Each student is matched with a faculty mentor who is conducting research related to biotechnology or biology from one of several departments and colleges, based largely on the student’s interests.  Selection also was based on academic credentials.

The students, their future plans and comments are:

— Alexis Philippe of St. Louis, Mo.  Philippe plans to attend medical school and specialize in pediatric oncology.  Her faculty mentor is Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar, professor of biology.

“I am currently on Arkansas State’s Women’s Soccer team, which was the ultimate reason why I came. What initially made me want to come and continually reminds me of the reason of why I chose A-State, are the people and the atmosphere. A-State is like no other school I have been to, and I am fortunate to find a place where I can be myself and find those who push me to be the best student and person I can be. I hope to make a positive impact on every child who I will be providing care for.”

— Kan Takahashi of Ōshū, Japan.  After attending Gifu University and majoring in food and life sciences, Takahashi came to Arkansas State University last summer to study in the English as a Second Language program and to major in biological sciences.  His goal is to complete a research thesis project and complete a Master of Science degree.  Dr. Brett Savary, research professor of protein chemistry, is his mentor.

Noting his grandfather is a rice grower and has great concern about human health, Takahashi said, “I chose A-State because State of Arkansas is one of the largest rice producers in the U.S. and the strong research program in plant science for human health in the Arkansas Biosciences Institute. Last semester, I started training in Dr. Brett Savary’s protein chemistry laboratory, and I am learning how to process rice bran fiber to isolate functional polysaccharides and to analyze their composition and structure.”

— Destiny Watkins of Paragould.  With a career goal of becoming a pharmacist, Watkins developed interest in science early in life, and chose Arkansas State University for many reasons.  Dr. Jianfeng Xu, research associate professor, is her faculty mentor.

“When I took the campus tour, I really enjoyed the size of the university. It is big enough that you don’t see the same people every day, but small enough to get to know most of the professors in your area of study. The Honors Program is what solidified my decision because it allows for much easier interaction with your peers within your major, and it gives so many opportunities to become involved in the university and in the community.”

— Nicole Duty of Jonesboro.  Duty’s long-term goal is professional school and earning a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.  Dr. Maureen Dolan, associate professor of biology, is her faculty mentor.

“I chose A-State because it was a big enough school to where I could get a great college experience and have many opportunities, but small enough that I wasn’t just a number. At A-State I am a person whom my professors care about and want to help me succeed.”

— Hannah Webb of Paragould.  A biology pre-professional major, she chose Arkansas State University, not only for the hometown comforts, but for the community, and close relationships of the university. She has aspirations of attending medical school and pursuing a surgical career.  Dr. Malathi Srivatsan,professor of molecular biology, is her faculty mentor.

“My classes require me to push myself in order to succeed at the level I wish to. I want nothing more than to reach my maximum potential in everything that I do. This drive is what sparked my interest in research. Researching is going to challenge me and push me outside of my comfort zone in all the ways that will shape me into a better version of myself.  Researching will also mold my mind into that of a scientist and higher thinker. I am thrilled to have the opportunity, and I am ready to embrace all the challenges and rewards that come with it.”

Each internship is valued at $2,500.  The students work 20 hours per week for 10 weeks.  An additional $500 is provided to the supporting laboratory for research supplies.

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