Northwestern State University student Devon Smith recently wrapped up internship at the Baylor College of Medicine. Smith, a senior biology major from Jena, participated in the College’s SMART Program that allowed him and other undergraduates across the nation to gain hands-on experience working on cutting edge research in the biomedical field.
Smith said the research was on a disease termed alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency. Specifically, on a gene that could play a role in increasing its onset in affected infants. He conducted this research in the lab of Kjserti Aagaard M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with Richard N. Sifers Ph.D.
“The entire experience was so fascinating and engaging. I sometimes had to pause in the just to say to myself, ‘I’m at Baylor College of Medicine right now, one of the most prestigious research centers in the country, doing cutting edge research that could impact thousands of lives in profound ways,’” said Smith. “The realization made me feel truly grateful and elated to be a part of this experience. Not only in my lab, but also with the friends I made in the program.”
According to Smith, the program allowed him to make many lifelong friends and mentors that he said he will keep for the rest of his life.
“I know without a doubt that a career in medical science is what I am meant to do,” said Smith. “I also have to thank everyone at Northwestern State. It was my professor’s encouragement apply in the first place that allowed me to have this life changing opportunity. Overall, this has been one of the most amazing experience in my life and would love to do it all over again.”
Northwestern State’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences offers several comprehensive programs that prepare students to enter into the job market competitively at the bachelor level or to further their education in either graduate or professional school.