Two students from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith have been selected to participate in the Summer Research Scholars program June 8 through July 31 at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.
Bobbi Evans, a junior chemistry major from Dallas, and Zane Neal, a junior chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry from Fort Smith, were selected for the program based on their exceptional application criteria, which included two letters of recommendation from college professors and a Personal Statement of Purpose, in addition to official transcripts.
“This kind of opportunity is one of the best chances to get exposed to the state-of-the-art drug discovery research and build a professional network helpful for graduate admission,” said Dr. Souvik Banerjee, assistant professor of chemistry at UAFS. “The selection is very competitive, and only exceptionally well qualified undergraduate students are accepted for this program from across the country. Ms. Evans and Mr. Neal are both very eager to learn new techniques and always ready to accept challenges.”
The eight-week paid internship matches students with UTHSC faculty to enhance their skills in biomedical information retrieval. Student researchers participate in workshops on scientific presentation and abstract writing while strengthening their communication skills in biomedical sciences. The research opportunities include fields such as biomedical engineering, epidemiology, health outcomes and policy research, integrated biomedical sciences, nursing science, and pharmaceutical sciences.
Evans and Neal both joined Dr. Banerjee’s guided research group in small molecule anti-cancer drug discovery in January 2020. They have also been trained on microwave-assisted synthesis of small complex molecules and purification as well as characterization techniques of small molecules. During the UTHSC internship, they will be working on design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of small molecule drug-like agents and will be exposed to in vitro and in vivo experiments.
Evans plans to attend graduate school and pursue a doctorate in organic/medicinal chemistry. Neal also plans to attend graduate school, pursuing a doctorate in the interface of chemical biology or biomedical science.