Seniors research stem cells in summer program

Benjamin Most

Five seniors participated in a stem cell research program at USC over the summer.

Justin Bae ’14, Zachary Birnholz ’14, Simon Gunter ’14, James Hur ’14 and Christina Woo ’14 spent eight weeks working in USC’s Eli and  Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and  Stem Cell Research as part of the Early Investigator High School Summer program.

One week focused on lab training and the other seven weeks on performing research on how stem cells can heal serious diseases and wounds such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The students wrote online journals, visited seminars and forums and conducted original research under the guidance of lab mentors.

During their last week, they presented the results of their research through poster presentations.

“Our lab was interested in how to minimize radiation wounds,” Hur said.

The program immersed the students in both the solitary and collaborative aspects of research.

While the seniors worked on projects independently, they were also able to interact with teachers and other students with similar interests.

Their friends and parents outside the program were also able to view their work through their online journals.

Gunter’s father, Jeff Gunter, provided financial support and gave the seniors this opportunity to pursue their passions in a professional environment.

Victoria Fox, the director of the USC Stem Cell Core Facility and a faculty member of the USC Department of Medicine, oversaw the summer program.

“I confirmed my love of science, and I made new friends,” Hur said. “I think it was an awesome experience.”