Local Gatton Academy Student Participates in Undergraduate Research Education Program with Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory
By: Kari Lynn Somers, courtesy of Gatton Academy:
This summer, Gatton Academy student Brody Johnson, a Bee Spring resident, 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 addressing the question, “What methods can be developed to effectively study small or rare populations relevant to cancer research?” The UREP gives students from across the region the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in biomedical research and present on their findings.
Johnson shared about his experience, “Wood Hudson’s UREP program prepared me for a career in medicine by providing me with excellent mentor figures, all seasoned in their respective fields, who were more than happy to share their expertise and advice regarding research, clinical medicine, and the field of cancer biology in general.” These mentors included Dr. Julia H. Carter, Prof. 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 the work going into cancer research, but he also had the chance to meet like-minded individuals pursuing similar goals.
The program concluded on August 10 at “Science Day” where students presented their final research proposals. Johnson proposed looking at treatment for patients with extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma and whether more effective approaches exist. As this form of cancer is rare, Johnson states that, “its treatment has not been explored as much as its more widespread counterparts,” making it a relevant proposal for research.
Students in the program also gave lectures on a chapter of their textbook, “Principles of Cancer Biology,” and one peer-reviewed journal article to their peers in a classroom setting.
Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Academic Opportunities Coordinator at The Gatton Academy, stated, “We’re grateful to Wood Hudson’s UREP program for giving our students a chance to narrow their interests within STEM fields while gaining valuable experience. As a close partner for over 11 years, we look forward to our continued work with Dr. Julia Carter and all the wonderful staff in Newport.”
Students at The Gatton Academy are encouraged to participate in research experiences and internships during the summer between their junior and senior years. During Summer 2022, students took part in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Gatton Research Internship Grant program, Gatton Sponsored Internship Program, National Security Language Initiative for Youth, Study Abroad, and more.
Brody is the son of Brad and Jodi Johnson of Bee Spring.
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Gatton Academy is a recipient of the 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from Insight Into Diversity Magazine and the Innovation Partnership Award from the National Consortium for Secondary STEM Schools.