Summer Science Program 2017

This year’s Summer Science Program toured Transport Medicine including an up-close look at Angel One.

This summer, the UAMS Department of Pediatrics/Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) Summer Science Program provided 23 outstanding students the experience of a career in academic medicine—in both the clinical and the research aspects. These students spent June and July in paid, research-related positions with ACRI researchers, conducting mentored research projects involving children’s health. The Summer Science Program also presented opportunities to attend rounds and clinics and to tour different hospital units. Faculty from various pediatric subspecialties taught basic science and clinical research techniques and helped the students gain exposure to clinical medicine. In addition, the Summer Science Program hosted a twice-a-week lecture series focusing on various aspects of academic medicine, graduate school, medical school, residency, research, and clinical medicine for its participants. At the end of the program, each student gave a scientific presentation on his or her research project.

Tyler Graham - Arkansas Technical University

For Tyler Graham, the Summer Science Program confirmed his academic and career goals. The Arkansas Technical University junior is studying biology and chemistry and intends to attend medical school, UAMS specifically, and to become a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon. Tyler met Dr. Takeshi Shinkawa, an ACH cardiovascular surgeon. Dr. Shinkawa and nurses in the cardiovascular unit took time to discuss and showcase their work with Tyler. “It was everything I thought it would be,” Tyler said, and as far as his goals, “the experience strengthened it.”

Tyler Graham studied the effects of digested fat in gut microbial ecology.

ACRI President Dr. Greg Kearns presents Tyler Graham an award for first place for the Most Outstanding Presentation students.
Second place for the Most Outstanding Presentation was won by Abbi Tatum.

Tyler’s involvement in the Summer Science Program introduced him to medical research. Tyler conducted his research project in the laboratory of his mentor, Dr. Kartik Shankar, Developmental Nutrition. In Dr. Shankar’s laboratory at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, Tyler examined how different types of digested fat affect gut microbial ecology, which may influence a person’s disposition to obesity and metabolic disease. In the experiment, mice were fed diets of varying fat composition, and then the gut contents underwent microbial ecology analysis. Tyler collaborated with researchers with expertise in genomics and bioinformatics. “I saw it takes lots of collaboration to make a project work,” Tyler said, adding, “everyone in the lab has helped answer questions.”

Tyler noted that Dr. Shankar was a fantastic mentor: “I felt I had his backing and given guidance and freedom.” Dr. Shankar has annually participated as a mentor in the Summer Science Program: “Mentoring is a very critical cornerstone of academic research and is not only rewarding as a mentor but also a unique opportunity to think about fundamental scientific questions in a new way. Being a mentor is a privilege.”

Dr. Shankar remarked that he wants his students to leave the program thinking about research as a true career option. He felt Tyler not only has a positive attitude and willingness to learn, but also has a passion about what he wants to pursue. After his involvement with the Summer Science Program, Tyler said, “I can definitely see research as part of my career.”

Summer Science Program Awards

At the end of the Summer Science Program, each student gave a scientific presentation on his or her mentored research project. Awards are presented to two outstanding presentations by college students and to an outstanding presentation by a high school student.

This year among college students, Tyler Graham, a junior at Arkansas Technical University who was mentored by Dr. Kartik Shankar, Developmental Nutrition, was awarded first place for the Most Outstanding Presentation, “Types of Fats Impact on Gut Microbial Ecology,” and he received a $500 prize. Second place was won by Abbi Tatum, a senior studying biology at the University of Arkansas, who was mentored by Dr. Jeff Moran of PinPoint Laboratories for her presentation “Validation of Clinical Method for the Detection of MAB-CHMINACA and its Primary Human Metabolites in Human Blood and Urine.” She received a $250 prize. The awards for the most outstanding presentations are generously sponsored by Dr. Gresham Richter, Pediatric Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.


To view a complete list of the students, presentation titles, and student mentors, CLICK HERE.