Students Benefit from "Bridges to Baccalaureate" Program

January 3, 2020 dbobo Blog
UAB Bridges to Baccalaureate photo - Jan 2020

Summer 2018 Participants (L to R): Justin Jones, Roberto Abarca, Kinya Perkins, Gabrielle Cunningham, Nicholas Kin, Destiny Jones, Micah Bagley, Mallorie Corbin, Andrea Dodgen.

By Nicholas Kin
Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program Coordinator

A Day in the Life of a Scientist

Ever wondered what a biomedical scientist does every day? For eight Jefferson State students, that is exactly what they experienced last summer.

Jefferson State Community College, in partnership with UAB and Lawson State, was awarded a five-year Bridges to the Baccalaureate grant from the National Institutes of Health. The goal of the program is to increase the number of individuals who enter the biomedical research workforce.

The approach to achieving this goal is three-fold:

1. provide biomedical research opportunities through paid summer internships
2. support students through completion of an Associate’s degree
3. support students through transfer and completion of a Bachelor’s degree.

Each year students are selected and paid $5,000 to participate in a ten-week summer biomedical research internship at UAB.  Since 2015, 32 Jefferson State students have successfully completed the summer program with 84% graduating with an Associate’s degree.

The ten-week summer internship at UAB provides each student with the opportunity to not only see what a scientist does every day, but also to work alongside mentors on their own biomedical research project.  During the first two weeks of the summer program, students participate in a biomedical research boot camp class.  Students learn about biomedical research, research ethics, how to keep a research notebook, and how to perform standard research techniques through hands-on experiences.  Following the boot camp, students spend eight weeks in their assigned research lab working on an independent research project.  The summer program culminates with a research symposium where each student prepares a poster summarizing his or her research project including background information, experimental results, and conclusions.

Gabrielle CunninghamGabrielle Cunningham, a Nutrition major at Jefferson State and participant in the summer 2018 program, states that “the summer biomedical research program was amazing!”  Her research project focused on understanding the effects of prolonged use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) on heart and renal function.  “The faculty/staff were so dedicated and worked with me daily to ensure I had everything I needed,” she said.  Because of her hard work, Gabrielle was awarded the Reynolds Blazing to Biomedical Careers Most Promising Scientist Award at the summer research symposium.  Even more impressive, Gabrielle’s summer work was recently published in the journal of Life Sciences, a peer-reviewed international journal publishing original research articles that emphasize the molecular, cellular, and functional basis of human therapy.  To browse this publication, see . Gabrielle is only four classes shy of graduating with an A.S. in Nutrition from Jefferson State. After graduation she plans to transfer to UAB and earn a B.S. degree in Nutrition.