Students Join UT Southwestern Researchers in Lab
Green Fellows Program Immerses Participants in the Scientific Process
Oct. 19, 2011
Joanne Thambuswamy carefully analyzed behavioral data and conducted diagnostic interviews of research subjects – heavy-duty responsibilities for the UT Dallas student.
And although she’s at a nascent point in her career goal of becoming a physician, she was selected along with 17 other UT Dallas students to partner with researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center as part of the Green Fellowship Program. She said her experiences with the program this past year have furthered her research experience exponentially.
“My focus was eating-disorder research, and I was looking at everything from anorexia to obesity,” she said. “Primarily, I studied how anorexia affects social cognition and how feeding behaviors affect habits.”
Thambuswamy and her peers delved into a wide array of academic disciplines – from ophthalmology to pediatrics – and were paired with researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where they spent 16 weeks immersed in research.
The Green Fellowship program, now in its sixth year, encourages undergraduates to spend an entire semester on research in a lab with mentors provided by UT Southwestern.
The program is co-directed by Dr. A. Dean Sherry, director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern, professor of chemistry and holder of a Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science at UT Dallas. The program is also co-directed by Dr. Nancy Street, associate dean at the Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
“We started by placing four UT Dallas undergraduates at UT Southwestern six years ago,” Sherry said. “This year we plan to identify and place 20 of the brightest UT Dallas students in labs at UT Southwestern. The Green Fellows have become very popular at UTSW.”
The program is accepting applicants for next semester. Green Fellows’ semester culminates in a poster presentation of their work in May, giving students an opportunity to display and share their research findings.
“Honestly, my favorite experience was the poster presentation at the end of the semester,” said Megan Haight, UT Dallas Green Fellow. “It was nice to see all of the hard work that everyone had put in, and it was great to talk about my project with people at the fair. I didn't realize how much I had learned until I had to explain it to a large group of people. “
Haight worked in a neurogenesis lab with Dr. Jenny Hsieh, assistant professor of molecular biology at UT Southwestern. There, she worked on a cancer project studying how certain cancer cells behaved differently when exposed to a specific molecule.
“This really helped me develop confidence as a student that I never knew I had,” she said. “I’ve grown so much academically through this program and feel that nothing is too big for me to take on now.”
Nduka Ebelechukwu works in a UT Southwestern laboratory as part of the Green Fellowship program.
Student like Blake Richardson are encouraged to spend an entire semester with mentors provided by UT Southwestern.
Sabin Kshattry and other Green Fellows prepare their research for presentation at the end of the spring semester.
The seventh class of Green Fellows will be announced by Oct. 31 for research during the spring 2012 semester. More information and downloadable applications are available at the UT Dallas Green Fellows website. Completed applications and all supplemental materials as outlined in the application must be received by Oct. 21. For additional information contact Deb McGill, Coordinator for the Green Fellows Program at [email protected].