University of Maryland student interns at USAISR
When University of Maryland student Cynthia Njatcha enrolled for college classes during her freshman year, her ambition was to become a medical doctor. Soon after she began her studies, she learned of an educational program that made her change her mind about being a doctor because she felt that this other program would be more beneficial to her native country of Cameroon.
"I realized that I don't want to treat people when they are sick," said Njatcha. "I want to help them and educate them before they get sick."
When Njatcha's family moved to the U.S. at the age of 14, she had witnessed firsthand the diseases and health issues in Cameroonâ€"many of which she feels can be eliminated with the proper training and education of the general population.
Now as a college senior, when she returns for classes after the summer break she will continue to study for a bachelor's degree in public health science. But before she continues her studies as an undergraduate student, Njatcha is participating in a 10-week summer internship program at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, sponsored by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education.
"This program exposes students to the lab environment and provides them with invaluable research experience," said David M. Burmeister, Ph.D., USAISR combat casualty care research scientist and lead intern mentor. "This program also helps students to clarify their educational goals and enables them to reach those goals."
"The program also provides an opportunity to not only use and develop science-related knowledge and skills, but to enhance some of the skills that are transferable to any professional work setting," said Luciana Torres, Ph.D., research physiologist at the USAISR Damage Control Resuscitation task area.
Njatcha is one of 11 interns from colleges and universities throughout the U.S. selected to conduct research with a USAISR mentor and research team. Njatcha was selected to team up with Torres and her husband Ivo Torres, Ph.D., who is also a research physiologist and doctor of medicine. The research that she'll be involved in is designed to determine how some plasma proteins are associated with changes in the microvascular system after hemorrhagic shock.
"She will also learn various aspects of the daily work routine at our research lab," said Ivo. "This includes experiment preparation, performance and data analysis. She will also conduct her own project, under the supervision of experienced investigators."
Njatcha said that this is a great experience for her and thinks that her mentors are awesome. She also believes that this summer internship confirms that she is studying for the right degree.
"I love working in the lab and I know that this is what I want to do," Njatcha said. "I believe that this experience will someday help me do research so that I can prevent people from getting sick in Cameroon."
"I have been positively impressed with her work, especially with her motivation and determination," said Luciana. "I believe Cynthia's perseverance and enthusiasm will continue inspiring her to create new ideas, embrace great opportunities, and make the best decisions about the direction of future career in public health."
Ivo said that he was just as impressed with Njatcha and believes that she may go in any career path that she chooses.
"She is a very determined person," said Ivo. "She has shown immediate interest in all activities that she has been exposed to. Being selected to this very competitive program is testament to her tenacity and resolve."