Scientist Stephen Jackson knocked on the apartment doors of 17 students and told them to get ready for something different. Instead of lessons in pipetting, o-glycans and florescent chemical staining, the summer science scholars were about to get a lesson in salsa dancing.
It was one of many activities, including sailing and watching “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Civic Center, that researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation offered science students this summer to break up the serious work of biomedical research. The 17 high school and college students were chosen from hundreds of applicants to serve as Sir Alexander Fleming Scholars this summer. The eight-week program ended Friday. “This has definitely been a good experience for me. I’ve learned that research is a lot more intense than I thought. It’s a lot more than doing experiments,” said Jolie Britt, 19, a graduate of Casady School who attends Oklahoma State University. The Fleming scholarship program, which started 50 years ago, has trained more than 400 students in various areas of medical research. Students are paired with working scientists and help in professional labs at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City. They spend a dizzying first month getting rapid, intense tutorials about professional-level projects before separating to begin lab work. Erich Spaeth, who graduated from Harrah High School in May, worked this summer to identify B cells related to leukemia and cancer. This day, Spaeth was working with another student to complete 460 minipreps with bullet tubes, centrifuges and a large vortexer. Spaeth, who also is a talented percussionist, applied for a Fleming scholarship after Harrah science teacher Elizabeth Smith, whose class he “loved,” recommended he give it a shot. He hoped to narrow his career options in science by working in a lab.
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For more information on the Sir Alexander Fleming Scholarship program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, go online to www.omrf.org and click on "education" or call 271-8537 or (800) 522-0211. 2006 Fleming Scholars Kelly AndersonTulsa Union High School Jolie BrittEdmond, Oklahoma State University Thelben BurrellNorthwest Classen High School Stephanie EasterTulsa, University of Oklahoma Kristen FenskaMiami (OK) High School Geraint HarrisBurns Flat, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics Amber KuzmicOklahoma City, OU Rufei LuEdmond, OU Catalina LupuClassen School of Advanced Studies Anna McGeachyPutnam City North High School Erin RappTulsa, OU Nadia SebastianOklahoma City, Creighton University Erich SpaethHarrah High School Taryn TateShawnee High School Zhu Judy WangPonca City, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics Aaron WeaverMiami High School Yu Jonathan XiaEdmond, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics