From their initial training at The University of Southern Mississippi to presenting at the inaugural Mississippi IDeA/EPSCoR Conference 2022, our 2022 class of Mississippi INBRE Research Scholars (MIRS) had a spectacular run this summer. Demonstrating strength and determination throughout their experience, this year’s class may be one of our best yet.
MIRS is an 11-week summer research internship for Mississippi undergraduate students. The program introduces students to the world of biomedical research. MIRS begins in mid-May and concludes in late July each year. The scholars began their training with MIRS bootcamp. Hosted at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg, Miss., MIRS Bootcamp is a week-long crash course in the basics of biomedical research. Our staff trained the students in basic laboratory techniques, responsible conduct of research, research ethics, and more. As part of their Petri dish training, the scholars were given the opportunity to make art with bioluminescent bacteria. From largemouth bass to SpongeBob SquarePants characters, we were amazed at the creativity of the scholars.
After bootcamp, the scholars were sent to their mentors’ research laboratories for the remaining 10 weeks of the program. Being able to choose their mentors, the MIRS Scholars set to work on research projects of their choosing, ranging from immunology to drug delivery systems. They were checked in on periodically by our staff, but the bulk of their research relied on their own willingness to learn from the laboratory experience. Working with faculty mentors at research labs across the state, the scholars worked diligently over the summer to complete their projects.
Lola Perriann Smith, a 20-year-old biology major at USM, says this was one of her favorite parts of the experience. “I had the most amazing summer working in my mentor’s laboratory. Dr. Vidal, his graduate students and other students like myself supplied me with a supportive and inclusive work environment None of my questions ever went unanswered, and I was always learning something new. If I could work in Dr. Vidal’s lab again, I would say yes in a heartbeat,” said Smith.
Once they had completed their research, the scholars then created research posters to present at the inaugural Mississippi IDeA/EPSCoR Conference 2022. Hosted by Mississippi INBRE at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss., the conference was attended by over 400 faculty, staff and students from across the state.
Not only did each MIRS Scholar do an excellent job representing Mississippi INBRE, but Smith won 3rd Place in the STEM Laboratory Poster Competition. Her presentation was titled “Hydrogen peroxide produced by Streptococcus pneumoniae through pyruvate oxidase (SpxB) catalyzes the oxidation of hemoglobin and the formation of a potential ferryl radical.”
Congratulations to our 2022 class of Mississippi INBRE Research Scholars for the phenomenal work you’ve achieved this summer. It was an honor to play such a pivotal role in your professional development. We can’t wait to see what you’ll achieve in the coming years.
Read our interview with Perriann about her MIRS experience.
See photos from this summer.
Learn more about MIRS.