Participants in the 2023 BioStart Internship Program include, from left to right, Brionna Strickland, Avieona Eley, Yoshua Washington, Brantley Welch and Emelia Salter. Not pictured: Rikki Wiggins.
Southwood High School interns spending semester at LSU Health Shreveport
Six students in the Biotechnology Magnet Academy (BTA) at Southwood High School are spending this semester conducting research at LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS). Through the BioStart Internship Program, six to 10 seniors from BTA conduct research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor at LSUHS. The interns spend three hours a day in a lab learning research methods and laboratory techniques.
This year’s BioStart interns and their mentors are:
- Avieona Eley
- Mentor: Xiuping Yu, Ph.D.
- Emelia Salter
- Mentor: Manikandan Panchatcharam, Ph.D.
- Brionna Strickland
- Mentor: Hugh Nam, Ph.D.
- Yoshua Washington
- Mentor: Yunfeng Zhao, Ph.D.
- Brantley Welch
- Mentor: Gulshan Sunavala, Ph.D.
- Rikki Wiggins
- Mentor: Monica Cartelle Gestal, Ph.D.
Participants present the results of their research at poster sessions, regional conferences, science competitions and public outreach venues throughout the year.
The BioStart program has served 140 students, including approximately 74 percent females, 58 percent minorities and 45 percent first-generation college bound.
As part of its EdVentures education initiatives, BRF launched the BTA and BioStart programs in 2006 and 2009, respectively, in conjunction with the Caddo Parish School Board, LSUHS, LSU Shreveport, participating biotech companies and Southwood High School.
The BTA at Southwood High School is a four-year, rigorous curriculum that far exceeds Louisiana requirements for basic high school curriculum with a focus on math, science and technology courses.
BRF’s education initiatives at Southwood High School include the BTA, BioStart, the College Navigator and the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics program.
“BRF leads education initiatives as part of our mission to grow and diversify our economy. The development of a science and technology-based workforce is key to this mission for Northwest Louisiana,” said BRF President and CEO John F. George Jr., M.D. “The students are the real beneficiaries of these programs, but our region also grows a more qualified and diverse workforce.”
Funding for BRF’s EdVentures programs comes from the generosity of donors, including the late Bobbie Cates Hicks, the Bruce J. Heim Foundation, the Poindexter Foundation Inc., the CenterPoint Energy Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s Give for Good Donors, the Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s William C. Woolf Fund and the Magale Foundation.