The Edmond Sun

June 14, 2013

Cancer Center welcomes 8 summer research scholars

Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Two students with Edmond connections are among eight college students who will spend their summer working alongside researchers at the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center as part of the Summer Research Scholars Program.

Crista Riggs is an Edmond resident and a student at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and Max Lyon, from Oklahoma City and a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, will be joining six other students as they work at the cancer center.

The program is in its fourth year at the cancer center, and it affords students the opportunity to work under the mentorship of senior cancer scientists. The aim is to heighten students’ interest and better prepare them for careers in cancer research and medicine.

During eight weeks, the students participate in a variety of research projects funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute and other sponsoring organizations. In addition, students complete an independent research project and present their findings to their class and mentors at the end of the term.

“We are pleased to provide these outstanding undergraduate students the opportunity to work alongside cancer center scientists and to learn about research,” said Dr. Danny Dhanasekaran, deputy director for basic research at the Stephenson Cancer Center and scientific director of the Summer Scholars Program. “These students will learn not just about the biology of cancer but also about how scientists conduct research. This understanding will be important as they continue their careers in science and medicine.”

While primarily focusing on laboratory cancer research, summer research scholars also have the opportunity to interact with cancer physicians and patients. Dhanasekaran said this helps the students gain a better understanding of the relationship between cancer research and care.

The other 2013 Summer Research Scholars are: Jonathan Bates, Galesburg, Kan., Oklahoma Christian University; Brandon Burkett, Norman, Oklahoma City University; Corinne Dinges, Norman, University of  Oklahoma; Tom Pham, Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma; Vy Pham, Broken Arrow, University of Oklahoma and Richard Pody, Norman, University of Oklahoma.

“Participating in the summer program with the Stephenson Cancer Center for the second year in a row will help me to grow in my academic understanding of science and research,” said Riggs, who attends Ouachita Baptist University.

“I am thankful for the experience to challenge myself through completing another research project that could potentially contribute to the fight against cancer.”

Since it began in 2010, the Summer Research Scholars Program has hosted more than 30 undergraduate students from universities in Oklahoma and four other states.

The program is supported by the Broken Arrow Lady Elks Auxiliary and the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.