Students spend summer break being way smarter than you are

"What did you do this summer?" "Well, I saw six superhero movies, read a couple of books and made a permanent dip in my couch cushion. What about you?"

"I studied the formation of sulfilimine crosslinks through bromide."

You've got to hand it to our students. They're ambitious.

Case in point: Students Monica Moran from Nashville Big Picture High and Jailen Johnson from Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High spent the summer deep in research mode at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. They were part of the Aspirnaut program that wants to move more students into STEM fields.

Here is the full press release from Aspirnaut:

The Aspirnaut™ Program is proud to announce that Monica Moran of Nashville Big Picture High School, Jailen Johnson of Pearl-Cohn High School and Hailey Harrington of Springfield High School completed the 2013 Summer Research Internship Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Friday, July 12, 2013.

The program provided 17 high school and 21 undergraduate students the opportunity to work in biomedical research laboratories.  They were also exposed to professionals that helped illuminate a path for a successful future in the sciences, and each intern received a salary for their efforts.  The participants resided in campus housing during their internship.

Monica, Jailen and Haley all worked in the lab of Billy Hudson, Ph.D.  Monica, a returning summer researcher continued work looking at bromide as an essential element for the formation of sulfilimine crosslinks with Vadim Pedchenko, Ph.D.  Jailen worked with Isi Tolliver, Ph.D. on a project entitled “Mutation and Analysis of the Furin Site of Human Peroxidasin.”  Harrington was also at Vanderbilt for a second summer or research and she worked with Aaron Fidler investigating the possible role of sulfilimine crosslinks in liver fibrosis.

Reflecting on her experience at Vanderbilt, Jailen said, “I enjoyed the ACT prep classes they really helped a lot. Working in the lab was the most enjoyable part. I really looked forward to getting new data and doing different experiments. I liked meeting all the different professors throughout the summer. I enjoyed the trip to Berea a lot, it gave me a new college to look forward to applying to. I enjoyed the canoe trip and other fun things we did this summer, especially meeting a bunch of incredible new people.”

The students defended their work by a poster and an oral presentation before the 38 summer interns and about Vanderbilt scientists on Friday, July 12, 2013. The program ran from June 2 through August 2, on Vanderbilt University’s beautiful and historic campus, near downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

About Aspirnaut™ - The Aspirnaut™ Program is a partnership between Vanderbilt University Medical Center and rural K-12 schools in Arkansas, Maine, and Tennessee to help recruit and develop the STEM workforce necessary. Dr. Billy Hudson, a professor of Medicine, Pathology and Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, along with his wife Dr. Julie Hudson, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Health Affairs for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, his brother, Johnny Hudson and sister Ann Kincl cofounded the Aspirnaut™ program in 2006.