Amirah Burton Discusses SOLAR Program
N.C. A&T master’s student Amirah Burton hails her summer research experience at Chapel Hill as one of the greatest decisions she has ever made. Burton was chosen to represent A&T last summer in the UNC SOLAR program, which stands for Summer of Learning and Research. It’s a 10-week program for underrepresented college students from across the nation wanting to participate in biological and biomedical research, for which Chapel Hill is known.
Burton served under Dr. Jean Cook, a UNC-CH researcher and associate professor in the biochemistry and biophysics department. Dr. Cook is also the Associate Dean for Graduate Education at UNC-CH. Cook’s lab focuses on studying cell activities such as growth, duplication and division as they relate to cancer. “It was great being part of such important work,” explains Burton. “I benefited from understanding the processes and techniques that occur daily in a lab setting. Dr. Cook’s lab was truly impressive and I got a very accurate idea of what a world-class research lab offers students. It was a great experience.” Burton, a native of Greenwood, South Carolina, wants to get her PhD in Nutrition; she is interested in studying how nutrition impacts the human body, including the role of various foods in the prevention or formation of disease.
In addition to enjoying the daily lab experience, program participants prepare for grad school entrance exams, present in a final poster forum, and enjoy weekly journal clubs and social interactions with other students from across the country. For N.C. A&T students who are interested in the UNC SOLAR program, she says, “Be ready to work, be confident in your academic strengths yet willing to learn and absorb from those around you, and network while you’re there because the weeks really fly by!”
Undergraduate Researchers and Faculty Participate in CareerLink Workshop
Seventeen undergraduate researchers from N.C. A&T and their sponsors traveled to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for a full day of networking and workshops. The program, CareerLink, served both student and faculty researchers with concurrent programming tracks.
The undergraduate students had an extensive facility tour as well as ample networking time with peers from across the country and ORNL researchers. Student programming focused on writing a competitive employment application in the technical research field, choosing a research area of interest and learning how to best convey laboratory skills and competence in a written resume.
The faculty and staff in attendance (Dr. Christopher Doss, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Kenneth Flurchick, associate professor in the Department of Computational Science and Engineering; Mr. Paul Tuttle, director of proposal development within the Division of Research and Economic Development) were given technical guidance on how to collaborate effectively with ORNL researchers based on shared research interests. Each faculty member was assigned an ORNL mentor to work with in the coming months to select ideal research topics for collaborative pursuit.
This ORNL-sponsored career development opportunity is one of many available to both students and staff who are interested in pursuing research opportunities during their time studying and/or working at N.C. A&T.