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I have had the privilege to mentor a diverse group of trainees and have been honored by Northwestern University with the Ver Steeg Award for outstanding mentorship to graduate students. In addition, an ongoing goal of my lab is to train high school students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Each summer, our lab provides research experience to two or three under-represented or minority high school and college students participating in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care’s Kimberly Querrey Summer Research Program. Dr. Colleen Reczek, a Research Assistant Professor in the lab, serves as Co-Director of this program. This six-to-eight-week program, which typically has 25-30 participants, provides interns with intensive research training, and supports their academic and professional development through various activities. For example, interns have the opportunity to read and discuss the latest high-profile journal articles, gain a better understanding of the college/graduate school application process, hear about different career paths in science, shadow a clinician, and create and present a research poster. Many of the program’s alumni pursue a degree in biological sciences or decide to go to medical school. The impact this program has on the next generation of young scientists is immeasurable. Previously, our lab mentored Hermon Kihshen, a Somalian immigrant, who spent 5 years in the summer research program. Throughout the years he interned, we witnessed Hermon successfully enroll in college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and get accepted into medical school. Hermon is also a co-author on our cancer metabolism paper published in Nature (2020). Kaylee Zilinger, from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, is another intern we mentored in the lab for 2 years. During her time with us, Kaylee was accepted as an undergraduate at Northwestern University. Furthermore, we mentored Olufemi Ololade, a first-generation Nigerian-American for 2 years. Olufemi is currently applying to college and has been accepted into numerous universities and programs including Northwestern University, Duke University, and Indiana University’s Bachelor’s to MD (B/MD) pathway to medicine program. In addition, we have mentored a first-generation Latina, an Iranian-born adoptee, and a first-generation college student of Ethiopian descent. We have and will continue to write letters of support for the professional advancement of the interns we mentor. The opportunity to make a difference in these young people’s lives is truly an honor.

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