The Summer Science Program at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, co-sponsored by the Department of Pediatrics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, is intended to provide outstanding junior- and senior-level college students with a deep and focused experience in a health-related research project under the guidance of active pediatric health-focused scientists. Research opportunities include laboratory-based experiences in basic and translational biology, clinical investigation, and community-based research projects. Student scholars will spend eight weeks during their summer primarily engaged in a mentored research project, with additional opportunities for touring hospital units and research facilities as well as shadowing physicians and researchers in rounds and clinics.

The Summer Science Program hosts a lecture series for participants highlighting elements of biomedical research including research methodology, introductions to academic pediatrics, and sessions exploring post-graduate educational pathways such as graduate school, medical school and other post-baccalaureate training. Student scholars will present the findings of their research projects to other program participants, mentors, and the Arkansas Children’s research community at the conclusion of the program.

The Summer Science Program offers valuable experience for college students interested in pursuing post-graduate training in biomedical sciences through an M.D., Ph.D., or M.D./Ph.D. program. A competitive stipend is offered to program participants. Limited housing is available, but the costs are not included in stipend support.

2024 Summer Science Program: June 3, 2024 – July 26, 2024
Application Deadline: January 1, 2024

Eligibility Criteria

Students must demonstrate an interest in a career in medical research through prior experience and collegiate coursework, a personal statement, and/or recommendation letters. Applicants must be current full-time college students anticipating a baccalaureate graduation date by the end of the 2025-2026 academic year.

Summer Science Program Application

Complete the application

This past summer, the UAMS Department of Pediatrics/ACRI Summer Science Program provided 24 outstanding students the experience of a career in academic medicine—in both the clinical and the research aspects. These students spent June and July shadowing physicians, attending rounds and clinics, and touring different hospital units, as well as participating in mentored research projects involving children’s health. Faculty from various pediatric subspecialties taught basic science and clinical research techniques and helped the students gain exposure to clinical medicine. In addition, the Summer Science Program hosted a twice-a-week lecture series focusing on various aspects of academic medicine, graduate school, medical school, residency, research, and clinical medicine for its participants. At the end of the program, each student gave a scientific presentation on his or her mentored research project. 

Emma Grace Cooley – Episcopal Collegiate School

With her senior year of high school beginning this fall, Emma Grace Cooley is already exploring her plans for the future. This summer, she worked among the staff of the Spinal Cord Disorders Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) with her mentor, Laura Hobart-Porter, DO, of the Division of Developmental Pediatrics and Rehabilitation.

In addition to observing the activity of the clinic, Emma Grace carried out a research project under the guidance of Dr. Hobart-Porter. She conducted a retrospective chart review analysis of approximately 250 spina bifida patients, 18 months to 21 years of age, to determine whether or not the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is greater in the pediatric spina bifida population compared to the typically developing pediatric population and to analyze the relationship between the two disorders.  

As part of the research effort, Emma Grace analyzed the demographics and past medical history of the participants. Next, a physician reviewed MRI images for abnormal brain structures under blinded conditions, and a statistician then conducted analyses to compare the two populations to identify trends in the data. Ultimately, the results from this study will be used to determine if there is a connection between spina bifida and autism spectrum disorder that will hopefully improve the screening process for each condition in clinical settings. 

“It is unique for a high school student to learn about the medical field through this type of program,” said Emma Grace, who plans to study chemistry and biology in college, “and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.” Emma Grace enjoyed meeting and shadowing physicians from various specialties and was captivated seeing how an entire healthcare team from across the hospital united to care for one patient. Among the highlights of her Summer Science Program experience was listening to the heartbeats of the smallest patients in the cardiovascular intensive care unit and observing open heart surgery in a hospital operating room.  

“It is gratifying to watch the journey of the students that I mentor,” said Dr. Hobart-Porter. She noted, “Emma Grace has been the best…a perfectionist and super helpful.” Dr. Hobart-Porter is a valued mentor within the Summer Science Program and enjoys reliving the excitement of the field by watching people discover the clinical and research science aspects of pediatric rehabilitation. Her research program aims to improve the health and lives of her clinic’s patients and other children with spina bifida. 

Dr. Hobart-Porter is Medical Director of the Spinal Cord Disorders Clinic at ACH. The clinic provides multidisciplinary care for children with spina bifida, spinal cord anomalies or acquired spinal cord injury by an expert team that includes neurosurgery, orthopedics, physical medicine, urology, physical and occupational therapy and other services. The clinic is an affiliate of the Spina Bifida Association (SBA) Clinic Care Partner program, an initiative that works to identify the needs of people with spina bifida, connect with health care providers, identify clinics with the best outcomes, and identify research priorities. As an SBA Clinic Care Partner, the Spinal Cord Disorders Clinic implements best practices so that people with spina bifida receive the best care possible in order to have fulfilling lives.

Student: Mary Barre
Project Title: “Development of UCP1 Function Assay in Brown Adipose Tissue Mitochondria”
Mentor (Division): Craig Porter, PhD (Developmental Nutrition)

Student: Grace Bornemeier
Project Title: “Improving Sleep Medicine Referral Patterns in Children with Spina Bifida”
Mentor (Division): Laura Hobart-Porter, DO (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)

Student: Grace Bryant
Project Title: “Safety and Efficacy of Newer Pharmacological Headache Treatments in Children and Adolescents”
Mentor (Division): Aravindhan Veerapandiyan, MD (Neurology)

Student: Gabrielle Bulliard
Project Title: “Studies on the Effect of Malic Acid on Myoglobin’s Oxygen Release”
Mentor (Division): Sree Chintapalli, PhD (Developmental Nutrition)

Student: Emma Grace Cooley
Project Title: “Prevalence of Autism in Patients with Spina Bifida”
Mentor (Division): Laura Hobart-Porter, DO (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)

Student: Jade Dorman
Project Title: “Hydrocortisone Initiation and Vasopressor Use during Pediatric Septic Shock”
Mentor (Division): Ron Sanders, MD, and Kimberly Day, DO (Critical Care)

Student: Joya Ekworomadu
Project Title: “The Investigation on the Effect of Hippuric Acid and 3-(3-hydroxyphenyl) Propionic Acid on Bone”
Mentor (Division): Jin-Ran Chen, PhD (Developmental Nutrition)

Student: Claudia Franks
Project Title: “Exploring Factors Associated with COVID-19 Vaccine Decision among Hispanic Caregivers”
Mentor (Division): Eduardo Ochoa, MD (Community Pediatrics)

Student: Kaitlyn Gilkey
Project Title: “Oncogenic Overexpression of MED12 Favors Resistance to the CDK8 Inhibitors in Acute Myeloid Leukemia”
Mentor (Division): Samrat Roy Choudhury, PhD (Hematology and Oncology)

Student: Anna Caroline Gregg
Project Title: “Early Identification of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD) in Children with Single Ventricle Physiology”
Mentor (Division): Tara Johnson, MD (Neurology)

Student: Elizabeth Haight
Project Title: “Recovery Predicted: Questionnaire Development in Pediatric Trauma to Predict Functional Outcomes and Resource Need”
Mentor (Division): Krista Stephenson, MD, and Todd Maxson, MD (Surgery)

Student: Elizabeth Hinton
Project Title: “Point-Of-Care-UltraSound (POCUS) Use for Intravenous Catheter Placement during Pediatric Interfacility Transport”
Mentor (Division): Michael Stroud, MD (Critical Care)

Student: Alexander Layman
Project Title: “The Contribution of Programmed Cell Death 4 (PDCD4) to the Aberrant Lymphatic Malformation Endothelial Cell Phenotype”
Mentor (Division): Gresham Richter, MD, and Graham Strub, MD (Otolaryngology)

Student: Ahad Nadeem
Project Title: “Parental Influence on Programming of Adipose Tissue in Offspring”
Mentor (Division): Umesh Wankhade, PhD (Developmental Nutrition)

Student: Snow Perrin
Project Title: “Quality of Life, Sleep and Resilience in Caregivers of Respiratory Technology Dependent Children”
Mentor (Division): Brandi Whitaker, PhD (Psychology)

Student: Linh Phung
Project Title: “Assessment of Mental Health and Resilience in Food-Allergic Adolescents and Primary Caregivers during the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Mentor (Division): Amy Scurlock, MD (Allergy and Immunology)

Student: Brooklyn Ray
Project Title: “Retrospective Review of Palliative Care Consultation Patterns in the Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 2017-2021”
Mentor (Division): Kevin Bielamowicz, MD, and Tucker Blackledge, MD (Hematology and Oncology)

Student: Julianna Rose
Project Title:“The Role of Ventriculoperitoneal Shunts in Palliative Care”
Mentor (Division): Eylem Ӧcal, MD (Neurosurgery)

Student: Danitra Sargent
Project Title: “A Case for a Sedation Nurse in the Emergency Department”
Mentor (Division): Tonya Thompson, MD (Emergency Medicine)

Student: Grant Shelnut
Project Title: “Oblique View Approach as an Alternative for Ultrasound-Guided Peripheral Intravenous Line Placement in Children”
Mentor (Division): Jose Malaspina, MD, and David Spiro, MD (Emergency Medicine)

Student: Chelsea Sims
Project Title: “Utility of Shunt Series in the Evaluation of VP Shunt Dysfunction”
Mentor (Division): David Spiro, MD, and Jonathan Williamson, MD (Emergency Medicine)

Student: Joshua Spiva
Project Title: “Albuterol Delivery Via Heated High Flow Cannula System”
Mentor (Division): Ariel Berlinski, MD (Pulmonary)

Student: Kennedy Stringfellow
Project Title: “Bioenergetics and Metabolism in Pediatric Population”
Mentor (Division): Shannon Rose, PhD (Allergy and Immunology)

Student: Sophia Tyrer
Project Title: “Integration of Videography into Congenital Heart Surgical Education”
Mentor (Division): Lawrence Greiten, MD, MCMSc (Cardiovascular Surgery)