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UA Little Rock Student Selected for UAMS Summer Undergraduate Research Program

UA Little Rock student Paige Poindexter presents her research at UAMS.
UA Little Rock student Paige Poindexter presents her research at UAMS.

A UA Little Rock student gained valuable research experience and mentoring during the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Paige Poindexter, a senior biology major from Little Rock, is one of 10 students from colleges and universities around the country who was selected for the program, a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded effort in the UAMS Graduate School.

“I learned that I love research,” Poindexter said of the program. “I like a challenge, and I learned something new every day.”

The program, which ran from May 22-July 21, 2023, is aimed at increasing diversity in research and expanding research opportunities for underrepresented and disadvantaged undergraduate students. Students also received a salary of $4,320 for the duration of the program.

“This program is designed to provide a great research experience,” said Dr. Billy Thomas, one of the program co-directors along with Dr. Robert McGehee Jr. “It’s to introduce them to someone who we hope can be a lifelong mentor and part of their professional experience.”

During the nine-week program, students spent between three and five days a week in labs with their mentors. Students also participated in seminars on subjects such as career progression, research ethics, networking and scientific writing conducted by UAMS faculty.

The students’ main focus was conducting a research project with guidance from their mentor and lab assistants. Poindexter worked with Professor Craig Forrest to study how the gamma herpesvirus progresses in immune-deficient patients.

“I was in good hands, like they say in the Allstate commercials,” Poindexter said. “I learned how to work in a research lab, and I got to experience a lot of things that I wouldn’t have had I not gotten into the program. It was a nice experience, and I would definitely do it again if I had the chance.”

Poindexter will graduate from UA Little Rock in May. Afterwards, she plans to attend UAMS and wants to become an endocrinologist.