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Summers of Discovery Recognizes Interns' Accomplishments

By Eddy Ball
September 2008

Anand Kornepati
Enloe High School student Anand Kornepati, left, received his award from League. (Photo courtesy of John Maruca)

League Shah
Resnick, left, joined NCSU student Shah, League and Halweg, right, for the presentation. (Photo courtesy of John Maruca)

NCSU veterinary student Willson
Cesta, left, was one of the colleagues who worked with NCSU veterinary student Willson on her award-winning poster presentation. (Photo courtesy of John Maruca)

Ice cream reception
The ice cream reception has become a tradition in the Summers of Discovery program. Shown here, left to right, are Kornepati, Richa Tawari, Ray Dong and Waynekid Kam selecting toppings for their treats. (Photo courtesy of John Maruca)

The NIEHS Summers of Discovery class of 2008 and its mentors enjoyed their annual day in the sun on June 30 when the program held its annual poster competition in the mall area of the Rall Building on the main campus in RTP. Two days later, on August 1 in Rodbell Auditorium, program coordinator Charle League awarded three of the young scientists awards for their work - Anand Kornepati, Nishant Shah and Cynthia Willson, Ph.D.

Winners were selected by a group of volunteer postdoctoral fellows who served as judges. The judges ranked posters in three categories based on each of the three intern educational levels - high school, college undergraduate and graduate/professional school. Although the 2008 interns came from educational institutions throughout the United States, the poster winners all turned out to be students at William G. Enloe High School and North Carolina State University (NCSU) in nearby Raleigh, N.C.

The poster competition and the awards ceremony were well attended by interns and their mentors, and this summer marked a high point in intern participation in the poster competition. According to League, 32 of the 36 interns in the 2008 Summers of Discovery program took advantage of the opportunity to showcase their research achievements, as well as one intern who participated in the August 7 NIH summer poster session in Bethesda.

NIEHS Acting Director Sam Wilson, M.D., opened the awards ceremony by congratulating League and the interns and offering a few comments about the importance of the summer experience for young scientists. "The NIH is recognized as the leading medical research organization worldwide," he said. "I think it's really exciting and really wonderful for you to have a chance to spend time doing medical research and interacting with veteran scientists who have been doing some of the leading work here."

Following Wilson, Acting Deputy Director Bill Suk, Ph.D., urged the interns to remember that "you really are the future of this institute and of NIH and of the environmental health sciences.... This is an outstanding opportunity that you have to develop as a scientist and to help define what your career goals will be." Suk encouraged the young people to be proactive in seeking out what they need to make their opportunities as productive as possible.

As League prefaced her announcement of the winners, she offered "kudos to everyone who participated for the outstanding quality of the submissions." She also encouraged interns to put the competition into the perspective of individual career development. "It [the judging] is not the point of the summer experience," she said, "but rather it's the value of the practice itself.... It's also a good experience for the postdocs involved in judging the posters."

League also took occasion to thank the many people who worked behind the scenes to make the 2008 Summers of Discovery program a success. "It takes a community to run a program like this," she concluded, as she encouraged everyone to enjoy the ice cream reception that followed.

The Winners

  • High School - Anand Kornepati, a rising junior at Enloe, for his work in the Laboratory of Respiratory Biology Matrix Biology Group: "The Role of Inter-α-trypsin Inhibitor in Endotoxin-induced Endothelial Injury," with NIEHS Biologist Vandy Parron, Brown University Oncologist Yow-Pin Lim, M.D., and NIEHS Principal Investigator Stavros Garantziotis, M.D.
  • Undergraduate: Nishant Shah, a rising senior at NCSU, for his work in the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics Chromosome Stability Group: "Measurement of DNA Strand Breaks and Repair in Human Lymphoid Cells Using the Epstein-Barr Virus Episome," with Postdoctoral Fellow Christopher Halweg, Ph.D., and Principal Investigator Michael Resnick, Ph.D.
  • Graduate/Professional: Cynthia Willson, Ph.D., a rising second-year Veterinary Medicine student at NCSU, for her work in the National Toxicology Program's Cellular and Molecular Pathology Branch: "Protein Expression Changes During Bladder Tumor Development Induced by ο-Nitroanisole in F344 Rats," with Branch Chief Robert Sills, D.V.M., Ph.D., Biologist Tiwanda Masinde, Biologist Natasha Clayton and NTP Pathologist Mark Cesta, D.V.M.


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