Green Fellows Learn Lessons from Research Experience

Jack Hunt, chemistry major, UT Dallas

Jack Hunt, a chemistry major, applied what he learned at UT Dallas to disease-related research at UT Southwestern.

UT Dallas electrical engineering major Michelle Corn describes her junior year as “an amazing experience.”

“I had the opportunity to be in an operating room during brain surgery and to work in a neuro-oncology laboratory, which is completely outside my area of study,” Corn said.

Through the Green Fellows Program, Corn was one of a dozen UT Dallas students who recently completed a semester of full-time research with faculty mentors at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Working with mentors in the Advanced Imaging Research Center, Corn investigated how an aggressive type of brain tumor called a glioblastoma produces the energy it needs to grow. The research may lead to more effective therapies to increase the survival time of patients diagnosed with the tumors.

During the presentation of her research poster at UT Southwestern, the electrical engineering major was joined by her mother, Cindy Corn, who traveled from Austin, and grandmother Eleanor Fleming, who flew in from Chicago. “I was constantly learning new things about biology, oncology, chemistry and medicine,” Corn said. “My ultimate career goal is to be a biomedical engineer, and I enjoyed this experience so much that medical school might be an option for me as well.”

Participants in the Green Fellows Program spend 16 weeks pursuing individual research projects under the direction of UT Southwestern faculty. Fellows receive $4,000 and spend the entire semester focused on research.

Michelle Corn with her mother and grandmother.

During her research presentation at UT Southwestern, electrical engineering major Michelle Corn was joined by her mother, Cindy Corn, who traveled from Austin, and grandmother Eleanor Fleming, who flew in from Chicago.

“Working at UT Southwestern was the most fruitful academic experience I have had in college up to this point,” said Jack Hunt, a chemistry major who also just completed his junior year. His research centered on developing a potential drug for African sleeping sickness, a disease endemic to sub-Saharan Africa that is fatal if left untreated. “I learned how to apply the theories and techniques that I was taught at UT Dallas; I learned how to be a chemist.”

The 2013 participants are the eighth group of Green Fellows. Students interested in applying to the program must have completed their sophomore year, and be majoring in a science, engineering or computer science discipline at UT Dallas.    

John Paul Harris, a junior biology major, said he will always be grateful for the experience.

“Being able to do research in a world-class lab with some of the most intelligent people on the planet was a great opportunity to really develop an analytical, scientific mindset, which will translate well in our future endeavors,” said Harris, whose future plans include medical school. He studied the underlying mechanisms that lead to a normal human heartbeat, which contributes to a better understanding of how cardiac arrhythmias are generated.

“The quality of our undergraduates at UT Dallas has had a tremendous impact on our University,” said Dr. A. Dean Sherry, a professor of chemistry at UT Dallas and co-director of the program. “They’re remarkable. Many times they come into the lab and drive the work of graduate students.”

Sherry, the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology Science at UT Dallas, holds a dual appointment as a professor of radiology at UT Southwestern, where he also is director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center. He co-directs the Green Fellows Program with Dr. Nancy Street, associate dean of the Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and an assistant professor of microbiology at UT Southwestern.

“The Green Fellows have developed a superior reputation at UT Southwestern because they come here and perform,” Street said. “Our faculty members love having them in their labs.”

Sherry, whose research focuses on developing advanced imaging agents for use in MRI applications, said that he has welcomed many undergraduates to his laboratory over a 40-year career at UT Dallas.

“You can’t help but like working with young students,” he said. “It’s just fun. When they’re bright and enthusiastic, they’re willing to work on anything. I still get a kick out of it.”





Corn, Michelle

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Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].