This summer, Gatton Academy student Brody Johnson completed the Undergraduate Research Education Program (UREP) at the Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory. As one of eleven students selected to participate in this program, Johnson focused on the question: “What methods can be developed to effectively study small or rare populations relevant to cancer research?” UREP gives students from across the region the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in biomedical research and present their findings.
Johnson shared his experience: “The UREP program at Wood Hudson prepared me for a career in medicine by providing me with excellent mentors, all experienced in their respective fields, who were more than happy to share their expertise and guidance. concerning research, clinical medicine, and the field of cancer biology in general. These mentors included Dr. Julia H. Carter, Professor Diane Willkening Gilb, Dr. Ronald D. Snyder, Dr. Larry E. Douglass, and Dr. Erik Bey. Not only did this program give Johnson a new appreciation for cancer research work, but he also had the chance to meet like-minded people pursuing similar goals.
The program ended on August 10 with “Science Day” where students presented their final research proposals. Johnson proposed to review the treatment of patients with extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma and determine if there are more effective approaches. As this form of cancer is rare, Johnson says “its treatment has not been explored as much as its more prevalent counterparts,” making it a relevant research proposition.
Students in the program also lectured on a chapter from their textbook, “Principles of Cancer Biology,” and a peer-reviewed journal article to their peers in a classroom setting.
Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Academic Opportunities Coordinator at Gatton Academy, said, “We are grateful to the UREP program at Wood Hudson for giving our students the opportunity to focus on their interests in STEM fields while gaining valuable experience. . As a close partner for over 11 years, we look forward to continuing our work with Dr. Julia Carter and all of Newport’s wonderful staff.
Gatton Academy students are encouraged to participate in research experiences and internships during the summer between their junior and senior years. During the summer of 2022, students participated in the National Science Foundation Research Experiments for Undergraduates, the Gatton Research Internship Fellowship Program, the Gatton Sponsored Internship Program, the national security language initiative for youth, study abroad, etc.
About Gatton Academy: Created in 2007,The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s premier two-year residential program for gifted and talented juniors and seniors. Gatton Academy students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing interests in advanced science, technology, engineering, and math. The Gatton Academy is the recipient of the 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from Overview of diversity Magazine and the National Consortium for STEM Secondary Schools Innovation Partnership Award.