June 25, 1999

New program gives state high schoolers research experience

New program gives state high schoolers research experience

Twenty talented high school seniors from across the state are spending their summer vacations getting acquainted with the vast array of scientific medical research being conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Since June 13, the group has been investigating potential medical research topics with faculty mentors from the schools of Medicine and Nursing, learning essential computer skills, volunteering service and soaking up the expertise of numerous faculty members on a variety of health and science topics.

The students – chosen from more than 500 applicants from high schools across Tennessee – will be at VUMC through July 10 as part of the Tennessee Governor's School for Health Sciences.

VUMC is one of nine such "schools." The goal of the new program is to provide the students an intellectual challenge through research experiences in the health sciences, with exposure to both current technology and the medical setting of a hospital.

"In choosing the participants, we tried to get a variety of expressed interests in different areas of health care," said Dr. Vera A. Chatman, professor of the Practice of Human and Organizational Development and director of the Governor's School coordinating committee.

Career interests among the high-schoolers range from pharmacist to researcher, yet the program is wide enough to cover a myriad of academic disciplines and career opportunities in health and health sciences.

"I think the neatest thing about the mentorship program is that we're getting introduced to so many different areas," said Alicia Cooper, who will be a senior at Craigmont High School in Memphis.

By the time the "school" ends in July, the students will have explored the fields of allied health, nursing, medicine and scientific research and will have completed and presented a mentored research project.

They will also have been exposed to some of the fundamentals of research, including hypothesis development, background material research, statistical analysis and presentation of findings. The students will have also learned how to utilize on-line databases and the Internet in the development of a research project, and will have participated in at least one community service project with medical student members of the Community Scholars Program.

In addition to numerous presentations and distinguished guest speakers, Governor Don Sundquist will visit on July 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. in Light Hall.

Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt will host a "family day" reception on Saturday, June 26. This Kirkland Hall event, according to Chatman, is designed to show the commitment and enthusiasm of Vanderbilt toward the Governor's School.