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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 18, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 42
Young Scholars Showcase Summer Research

Tiara Byrd, a chemistry/biochemistry major at Florida A&M University, spent her summer working in the lab of Jeffrey Gray, an assistant professor in WSE's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, where she was mentored by Sidhartha Chaudhury. Here she presents her poster, titled "Modeling the Effects of Drug-Resistance Mutations of HIV-1 Protease on Substrate and Inhibitor Interactions."
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS

By Mary Spiro, Institute of NanoBioTechnology

Eighty visiting scholars, both undergraduate and high school students, from more than 60 institutions spent their summer discovering what it's like to conduct research with faculty members at Johns Hopkins. They displayed the results of their hard work — which included studies on topics as wide ranging as public health, genetics and nanobiotechnology — during a poster session held Aug. 7 in East Baltimore's Turner Concourse.

Participants at this poster session represented only a fraction of the short-term research programs that occur at Johns Hopkins every summer. Each program has its own admission criteria, separate funding sources and specialized focus, but the overall purpose is the same: "to attract the best and brightest students to apply to Johns Hopkins as the next step in their education," says Ashanti Edwards, the education program coordinator who manages the Research Experience for Undergraduates at the Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

That goal includes allowing underrepresented minorities to experience Johns Hopkins firsthand, adds Cathy Will, manager of student recruitment and programs at the School of Medicine and organizer of the poster session. "When these students have positive experiences at Hopkins, they will return to their home institutions with good stories to share with their classmates. The next year we always see more admission applications from those schools."

In addition to INBT, which placed 11 students in faculty research labs, departments that hosted students and participated in this poster session included the School of Medicine's Basic Science Institute, Center for Excellence in Genome Sciences Scholar Program, and Pulmonary Care and Critical Medicine; the Bloomberg School of Public Health; and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences' Biology Department.

A senior in biology at Morgan State University, David Nartey conducted research on engineered DNA nanoparticles through INBT's REU with affiliated faculty member Hai-Quan Mao, associate professor of materials science and engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering.

"I learned to use many different types of equipment in Dr. Mao's lab," Nartey says of his experience. "Also, the students I worked with were very helpful in explaining everything. Every student has their own area of expertise, and I learned a lot during lab meetings." Nartey will continue to work in the Mao lab even after completing the INBT program and says he intends to apply to Johns Hopkins for graduate school.


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