MEMPHIS — This Saturday, students will present their summer research at the 2016 Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) Symposium. This past summer, 14 students traveled to sites in Brazil, Uganda, and Nicaragua to engage in research related to biomedical science, behavioral science, environmental science and/or public health. Students spent a total of 10 weeks in these countries, and conducted research within their areas of interest. During the program, they are paired with mentors to assist in their efforts and provide academic guidance along the way.
Since 2000, the MHIRT program has existed to facilitate research collaborations between undergraduate students and scientists at centers of excellence in biomedical and behavioral research abroad resulting in expanded research capabilities, scientific conference presentations, publications and subsequent grant applications for continuing research support. Students focus on a multitude of areas, including psychophysics, neuropharmacology, aquatic environmental science, and other areas within the biomedical and behavioral research fields. Over the last 15 years, the MHIRT program has been awarded $3.2 million by the Mid-South Coalition for Minority Health International Research, and covers students’ costs (travel, food, lodging), along with a monthly stipend during their program.
For program director and biology professor Malinda Fitzgerald, the symposium serves a dual purpose for participants and CBU students alike. “Hosting the symposium is our wrap-up of one year and the kick-off of recruitment for the next summer. By hosting at CBU, it showcases the school and brings students to CBU and makes them aware of the opportunity.” Applications will be available on line in October 2016 for summer 2017, with a deadline of December 2016 (www.cbu.edu/mhirt).
While the program serves the larger mission of connecting underserved students with research opportunities around the world, the experience is also meant to be reflective. During the 10-week program, participating students had the chance to chronicle both their ongoing research and personal revelations in an online blog, “Reflections from MHIRT Students [http://mhirtcbu.blogspot.com/].” In one entry, recent alumna Rachel Depperschmidt (Biology, Chemistry, ’16) discovers the struggles, and opportunities, that living in a foreign country poses:
“I'm a planner. Spontaneity and last minute decision making as well as deviating from the plan give me anxiety. This is one of the aspects of my character that has really been tested in Brazil, because normally even when I begin the day with a plan it usually gets deterred by a new adventure, a language barrier, or any other countless things that can happen while traveling.”
The 2016 MHIRT Symposium will take place on Saturday, September 17 in Assisi Hall Room 155. A light breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m., followed by presentations at 9:30 a.m. If you plan to attend breakfast and/or lunch, please RSVP to Julia Hanebrink at firstname.lastname@example.org before noon on Wednesday, September 14 so catering arrangements can be made.
Learn more about the symposium, along with a detailed schedule, HERE