Natural science awardees complete synthetic biology internship

Kesha Williams
June 30, 2015

natural-science-awardees Summer internships continue to play an essential role in preparing students for challenging careers. Three ECSU students, Ashley Cartwright-Caldwell, Anteneshia Ebron, and Keshara Wiley, are participating in the 2015 Summer Internship Program in Synthetic Biology to gain valuable research experience. Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary branch of biology that involves the design and construction of biological parts, devices and systems. In addition to conducting experiments in the laboratory, participants are also enrolled in a four-credit biotechnology course that supplements laboratory work and provides them with additional knowledge and skills in the areas of biotechnology and molecular biology. Cartwright-Caldwell said she was willing to spend her summer hours completing a summer internship that takes her beyond her initial understanding of synthetic biology. "I have always been interested in things like the human body and how it works, or how any organism works for that matter, and biology has been the answer to that question," Cartwright-Caldwell said. "We are only halfway through the internship and I have gained valuable knowledge and learned many techniques that I have never been exposed to. I am now more confident in a laboratory setting and interested in learning more." Ebron saw the internship program as an opportunity to balance her skill set. "I took this on because I believe that I needed more than just good grades to get into medical school. They need to see that I have experience in the lab." Not only do these three students have this summer internship in common, during the spring semester all three received awards distributed to outstanding biology and chemistry students. They said they were proud to receive the departmental awards and would encourage other students to set goals to earn their respective departmental awards. Ebron, a resident of Belhaven, N.C., earned the Curtis D. Turnage Award reserved for the junior with the highest grade point average in the Department of Natural Science and the Herman G. Cooke Award reserved for the student who earns the highest research grade point average. Cartwright-Caldwell, from Hillsboro, N.C., earned a certificate of merit for biology majors who have an outstanding grade point average. Wiley, from Wilson, N.C., earned a certificate of achievement award for chemistry majors. This 10-week summer experience for STEM students is funded by the U. S. Department of Education under the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP)-a program that assists predominantly minority institutions in producing long-range improvements in science and engineering education programs. They are supervised by professors in the ECSU Department of Natural Science, Dr. Gary Harmon and Dr. Ronald Blackmon.