Scholars Connect launches third year of internships
By Kelly Lenox
Now in its third year, the NIEHS Scholars Connect Program (NCSP) got off to a busy start June 2-4, with an intensive training program taught by NIEHS postdocs.
Open to students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors from nearby universities, the internship attracts young adults with a wide range of academic experiences. Scholars in NCSP will work full time over the summer, and 15 hours per week during the academic year.
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Huei-Chen Lao of the NIEHS Office of Science Education and Diversity developed the training session, to ensure that each of the six new interns has the basic skills necessary for a successful start in the lab. The 2013 session (see story) was so successful, NIH requested that NIEHS interns in its Community College Summer Enrichment Program — Coral Backman, Laura Finerty, and Atif Rafique — be included in this year’s NCSP training. This year’s scholars, listed below, work in labs throughout NIEHS and NTP.
- Brianda Elzey, a senior at St. Augustine’s University, works with mentor Natasha Clayton in the Pathology Support Group, headed by Ronald Herbert, D.V.M., Ph.D.
- Nichole Flynn, a senior at North Carolina State University, works with mentor Ruben Orihuela Garcia, Ph.D., in the NTP Neurotoxicology Group, headed by Jean Harry, Ph.D.
- DeAsia Lewis, a junior at St. Augustine’s University, works with mentor Natalie Ren, Ph.D., in the NIEHS Metabolism, Genes, and Environment Group, headed by Xiaoling Li, Ph.D.
- Aaron Manning, a junior at St Augustine’s University, works in the NIEHS Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Group, with staff scientist Geoffrey Mueller, Ph.D.
- Carri Murphy, a senior at North Carolina Central University, works with mentor Daniel Menendez, Ph.D., in the NIEHS Chromosome Stability Group, headed by Mike Resnick, Ph.D.
- Nicole Sciortino, a senior at St. Augustine’s University, works with mentor Linda Yu, Ph.D., in the NTP Molecular Pathogenesis Group, headed by Darlene Dixon, D.V.M., Ph.D.
From intro to bioassays in three days
The laboratory boot camp kicked off with a talk on molecular biology, followed by lessons on scientific methods and techniques.
The following two days involved hands-on lab experiences that ranged from learning to use the pipette and balance, to preparing the bicinchoninic acid protein assay and gel electrophoresis.
The tasks assigned the students were more than exercises. Instructor Misty Thomas, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the NIEHS Macromolecular Structure Group, surprised the students when she revealed that the gel electrophoresis they would perform was part of her current research.
Diversifying the scientific community
NSCP was started in 2012 to help diversify the biomedical workforce. It offers paid internships to STEM students from historically black colleges and universities and other nearby academic institutions with students from underrepresented populations.
Promoting diversification of the biomedical workforce and training the next generation of environmental health scientists are among the priorities identified in the NIEHS Strategic Plan. Last year’s scholars completed successful research projects and delivered polished lectures at the end of the internship (see story), demonstrating the broad-based value of the experience. This year’s group promises to be every bit as impressive.