Picayune native to participate in summer medical research training

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2016

Undergraduates from across the nation apply to the SMART program at Baylor every summer, but only a select few get accepted, one of those being Picayune’s Jackson Coole.

Coole went to Picayune Memorial High School and is now going into his junior year at Mississippi State University with a biomedical engineering major.

“I spent the first couple years of college trying to decide what I wanted to do and finally found my major. I enjoy it because it combines the medical field with applying science to it. I don’t want to just work on a motor, I want to help people too,” said Coole.

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Dr. Gayle Slaughter, director of the SMART program, describes the SMART program as a “life-changing event that opens lots of doors to opportunities.”

SMART stands for the Summer Medical and Research Training and was developed to provide frontier-level biomedical research projects for undergraduates, said Slaughter.

“The program is for those students who have no conception of the range of medical problems they can contribute to. Textbooks are out of date by the time they are published so programs like this keep them current on everything like the technology and techniques that are used now,” said Slaughter.

In total, Slaughter said the program has accepted over 2,400 undergraduates in the 29-year duration of the program. Also, she said the program produces many scientists and researchers that have put their heads together to change the world. The qualifications to be accepted are not too strict, Slaughter said, as long as the students have a proper level of preparation, share a passion for learning and have the capacity to learn from what they have been given.

“I was definitely excited when I was accepted into the program. It is very prestigious. They offer a lot to students coming in like daily seminars from award-winning biomedical researchers and also provide GRE classes that would cost me around $800 to take,” said Coole.

After graduating from Mississippi State, Coole said he plans to earn his Ph.D. at either Georgia Tech or his dream school MIT.

“Science is a hobby to me. I really enjoy the concept of being able to make a product and seeing it help people,” said Coole.

The SMART program offers nine paid weeks of biomedical related research in a variety of areas, daily seminars, free SMART GRE prep workouts, housing at Rice University dorms and career development activities to help these students transfer to the next level, Slaughter said.

“The goal of the program, besides setting them up for their futures, is sectioned out into four parts. First, we want them to make goals for themselves. Second, we want them to make progress toward those goals. After that, we want them to make memories with the extraordinary people during this experience and lastly make friends,” said Slaughter.

The program is held from May 30- July 29. To apply, applications are accepted from December 1 to January 10 for the following summer. For more information on the program, go to https://www.bcm.edu/education/schools/graduate-school-of-biomedical-sciences/diversity/smart.