TBI Summer Research

By: Todd Martin
student explaining research to a teacherteacher explaining research to a studentSome of the most academically advanced students in town saved some of their best work for the middle of the summer.
Twelve students, recently graduated from high school or heading into their senior year, showcased Tuesday results of summer research tied to the Texas Bioscience Institute Middle College program.
Each student, individually or in groups, worked with a mentor at various hospital, university, business and other laboratory settings to contribute to a wide range of ongoing research projects.
Their fields ranged from treatments for liver disease, ovarian cancer and brain trauma to computer coding in business application and field irrigation.
Jeesoo Min, Harker Heights High School senior, worked on a project in a University of Mary Hardin-Baylor lab studying the absorption of toxic metal in various beverages.
“This will come in handy if I do research in the future,” she said of the experience. “It will be good for my college application and it gave me insight into the engineering field.” She plans to study chemical or computer engineering.
Harker Heights High School senior Haley Brown took part in a study at Texas A&M University-Central Texas considering the effects of larval cannibalism on various crops, a potentially cost saving measure for farmers.
She plans to go to medical school and become a surgeon. “The research experience was great,” she said. “The medical schools will love that I did this.”
Michelle Robbins graduated from Killeen High School in 2017 and just finished her first year at Cornell University. She said she contacted John Idoux, TBI research program coordinator and asked if she could return home to work on research.
Robbins, who wants to be a fetal surgeon, worked with another recent high school graduate in a Veterans Health Care System lab to study the effects of nicotine on the liver, comparing mice with human cells.
The study, she said, indicated that cells have an unexplained capacity to stop nicotine once they reach a certain level of damage. Those kinds of little-known abilities of the human body are what excites Robbins to pursue medicine and lab work.
“I found this really interesting,” she said. “I was contributing to something bigger. This was a graduate students’ project that will keep going.”
Harker Heights High School senior Jackson Post worked on computer coding at an Austin-area business in web development. His interest is aerospace engineering.
Students praised the chance to extend their laboratory experience at such a young age.
“It gave me a good look at treatment of ovarian cancer and inspired me to be like my mentor,” said Harker Heights High School senior Alana Ordonez. “It’s challenging. I feel like I’m achieving more.”
“I would not have gotten into Cornell without TBI,” said Robbins of the two-year dual credit program as well as the summer research. “This showed that I was dedicated to get all of the academic experience I could.”
Texas Bioscience Institute summer research participants included the following: Haley Brown, Jeesoo Min, Alana Ordonez and Jackson Post of Harker Heights High School; Chantelle Cancel of Ellison High School; Michelle Robbins and Alyssa Cabading of Killeen High School, Kara Paulk of Belton High School; George Robinson of Troy High School; Caitlyn Stanke of Rogers High School; Pandora Tindle of Temple High School; and Kelby Kosel homeschooled.