Temple Chamber of Commerce | Ashley Schlosser, Temple Health & Bioscience District
On the evening of Friday, August 2, 2019, friends and family of eight elite college students gathered with the local Temple community at Wildflower Country Club to celebrate the work of the inaugural class of the Temple Health and Bioscience District (THBD) Scholars Program. The THBD Scholars Program Poster Session showcased the interns’ work this summer and offered a special program and dinner in celebration of their families and honored guests.
The THBD Scholars Program was formed by the Central Texas Scientific Advocacy Group, an organization co-founded in September 2018 by Tami Annable, THBD Executive Director; David Sprague, Ph.D.; Colin Dodson and Ryan Quinn, THBD tenants and co-founders of SiMMo3D; and with the support of the THBD Board of Directors. The program sponsors eight college students from May to August during the summer. 2019 is the inaugural year. The program exposes students to various opportunities including but not limited to cancer and infectious disease research, 3D printing, entrepreneurship, public health, medical device technology. Students also benefit by acquiring tools to set them up for success in health-related fields.
The THBD Scholars Program attracts qualified college students who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and partners them with local businesses and researchers who can provide exemplary mentorship and training in preparation for innovative and challenging career opportunities.
This year’s scholars attend universities across Texas including the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Texas at Dallas, and Texas A&M University. The 2019 THBD Scholars Program students were: Isabella Cano, Alexis DeGraaff, Lun Gualnam, Tori Hagen, Amy Nguyen, Christopher Perez, Priyanka Reddy, and William Minnie.
A research poster is the most concise and effective way for scientists to communicate the stimulus and findings of their research, and during the THBD Scholars Program Poster Session, students displayed and discussed their work, which took place at THBD from May 31 to August 2, 2019. This year’s scholars presented work on cancer and infectious disease research, gene sequencing, zebra mussel growth and public awareness, 3D printing, public health, and medical device technology.
Local mentors and organizations joining THBD to provide real-world experience for the THBD Scholars Program included Bonnie Morehead, M.D. from the Texas Department of State Health Services; Scot Andrews, Impac Systems; Ryan Quinn, SiMMo3D; David Dostal, Ph.D., Matt McMillin, Ph.D., and Sharon DeMorrow, Ph.D., Dell Medical School and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (VA); Chetan Jinadatha, M.D., Central Texas VA.
“This is an exciting opportunity for college students to gain hands-on experience and mentorship from real professionals before entering the workforce,” said David Sprague, Ph.D., co-founder of the Central Texas Scientific Advocacy Group and president of Isolux Industries. “We are grateful for all of our mentors participating in the THBD Scholars Program. Their dedication and time to our future generation of STEM professionals will not only change lives, but also strengthen our community here in Temple and across central Texas.”
Lun Gualnam, a senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio, worked with Dr. Whitney Thomas, an epidemiologist at the Texas Department of Health Services on case investigation. Gualnam is preparing to graduate with a degree in public health.
“I came to Temple specifically for this program,” Gualnam said. “I saw a flyer at my school and thought it was a good opportunity.”
According to the National Science Foundation, U.S. students are showing increased interest in STEM fields, as an estimated 80% of the jobs available during the next decade will require math and science skills. According to 10-year predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15 of the 20 fastest growing fields will require significant math and science preparation. THBD and the Central Texas Scientific Advocacy Group are working together to prepare Central Texas students to meet these demands and pave the path of the future for the state’s growing biotechnology corridor.
“We have seen the growth of the biotechnology industry in central Texas over the years and want to prepare these students for the future of the industry by fostering STEM-related education and hands-on research opportunities,” said Tami Annable, executive director of THBD and co-founder of the Central Texas Scientific Advocacy Group. “We have the best and brightest students eager to learn from our wise mentors at top leadership positions in the healthcare, medical technology and research industries across Central Texas.”
Temple Mayor Tim Davis also showed his support at the event and spoke about the importance of internships and STEM programs such as the THBD Scholars Program.
“The great thing about Temple is its partnerships,” said Mayor Davis. “The Temple Health and Bioscience District is supported by our citizens, and the city of Temple voted to support the great work happening here for our students, to allow them to succeed and progress. The THBD Scholars Program offers a great place to take your dreams and run with it.”
For more information about the THBD Scholars Program, please visit https://www.templebioscience.org/internship.