Meeting Recaps


April 21, 2014 – Jonathan Weissler, M.D., Chief of Medicine, Professor, and Vice Chairman, Internal Medicine

For our April Exploring Post meeting, we had a presentation by Jonathan Weissler, M.D., Chief of Medicine, Professor, and Vice Chair of Internal Medicine. Dr. Weissler gave a presentation on his career as a pulmonologist and the different pathways that an academic physician can take, including his current administrative role as Chief of Medicine for the UT Southwestern University Hospitals. He encouraged students to develop many skills other than science, such as business or public health.

March 24, 2014 – Gary Reed, M.D., Chief Quality Officer, Professor of Internal Medicine

Gary Reed, M.D., Chief Quality Officer & Professor, Internal Medicine

During our March Exploring Post meeting, we had a presentation by Gary Reed, M.D., Chief Quality Officer and Professor of Internal Medicine. Dr. Reed discussed his professional pathway to becoming an Internal Medicine doctor and his current administrative role as the Chief Quality Officer. After the presentation, we had officer elections. Current officers gave presentations on their duties for this past year, their experiences, and why students should nominate themselves or others for a leadership role. The following students will fulfill officer roles for the 2014-2015 year: Imari Parham (President), Christine Ramjee (Administrative V.P.), Anika Reddy (Program V.P.), and Kelsey Shipman (Secretary).

February 24, 2014 – Jeremy Reimers, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher II, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics

The Explorers learned about Neurology and Nuerotherapeutics from Jeremy Reimers, Ph.D. Dr. Reimers started with an activity to familiarize everyone with the brain and neurons. Then he talked about his path to a biomedical research career, his current teaching position, and his own experiences in the field working with animal models to study addiction as well as autism.

January 27, 2014 – Ryan Golden, MSTP Student, Molecular Biology

We had the biggest group to date of 89 students for the first meeting of 2014. There was a presentation by Ryan Golden, MSTP Student. He gave a presentation on his pathway to choosing an MSTP program, the requirements and components of the program, and his current graduate research in the Mendell Lab studying microRNAs and other noncoding RNAs in normal physiology and disease. After the presentation, the students went to the Willed Body Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center for an anatomy presentation. 

December 16, 2013 – Lauren Tyra, Student Research Assistant, Neuroscience

Looking at different phenotypes of Drosophila Melanogaster
For our last meeting of 2013, we had a presentation by Lauren Tyra, student research assistant. She gave a presentation on "Navigating Careers in Biological Sciences," followed by a hands-on activity on looking at different phenotypes of drosophila melanogaster under the microscope.
After the activity, several 2013 Summer Research Program alumni led a panel discussion session. The participating alumni were Cecilia Esquivel, senior at the Talented and Gifted Magnet School, Joseph Giroux, senior at Bryan Adams High School, and Sofia Joison, senior at J.J. Pearch High School. They talked about the application/interview process, lab experience, STARS program experience, as well as their current college application process.

November 18, 2013 – Isabel Teo, Clinical Nutrition Student; and Peter Harris, Safety Specialist III.

Clinical Nutrition photo

There were two presentations during our November 18 meeting. During the first half, the Explorers had the privilege of listening to Isabel Teo, Clinical Nutrition Student.

They learned about sports/fitness nutrition and different labels that one might find on food packaging. Some of the labels are misleading, such as foods labeled fat-free. Fat free does not necessarily equal calorie-free, and as a result, many fat-free foods contain almost he same amount of calories. The members then received a specific food labels to inspect with one another and present to the group.

As a final activity, everyone was presented with a recipe to make a healthy sports drink at home. The second half of the meeting was led by Peter Harris, Safety Specialist III., on CPR and AED use. After a short presentation on the procedures, students were allowed to test out the newly learned skills on CPR mannequins. It was another successful meeting learning more about different health and science careers.

October 21, 2013 – Megan Farley, M.S., C.G.C., Genetic Counselor

Learning about genetics using Skittles

Our October 21 meeting was led by genetic counselor Megan Farley. She focused on:

  • How genetic counselors help patients identify risks of developing certain genetic disorders
  • Give advice on treatment options
  • The risks to future offspring

Ms. Farley also covered different genetic disorder markers and how her job is two-fold. The first was to tell the patients how to cope – this can include giving them information about treatments. The other part is telling them about other miscues or things that looked to be of future concern in both theirs and their child's DNA.

After her enlightening presentation, she led the Explorers on a hands-on genetic mutations activity with Pedigree Charts and Skittles.™

September 23, 2013 – Virginia Rady, R.N., M.S.N., ANP-C, Nurse Practitioner

Virginia Rady, R.N., M.S.N, Nurse Practitioner

During our Open House on September 23, we had our biggest group: 80 students. The presentation was by Virginia Ann Rady, a nurse practitioner. She provided us with some history of nurse practitioners, which came about in the 1960s as a result of the shortage of doctors in primary care. Nurse practitioners can make diagnoses and treatment plans, prescribe medications, and order referrals. Their main job is to educate the patient on what exactly is happening to them and why. Currently to become a nurse practitioner, one must get a bachelor’s degree, become a registered nurse, receive a master’s, and gain a state nurse practitioner’s license. In the future, more schooling will be required. Nurse practitioners are steadily becoming a more recognized and sought-after resource in a world with too few doctors.


October 29, 2012 – Eddie Mercado, Pharm.D., Clinical Pharmacist

Eddie Mercado - Clinical Pharmacist

During our second meeting, we had Dr. Eddie Mercado present about the strenuous process one must go through to receive a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. He went into further detail about the wide range of work for a pharmacist, from pediatric to nuclear pharmacy and back to his field, which is clinical pharmacy.

Dr. Mercado explained the five essentials to doing well as a pharmacist:

  • Deliver medicine safely and in the correct dosage
  • Educate the patient on what is going to be done and how they should respond if anything occurs
  • Monitor drug therapy
  • Be a team player and work with other health care providers to better serve the patient
  • Research and clinical studies allowing for you to make decisions based on prior experiences

Along with these five gems of knowledge, Dr. Mercado reminded all of the Explorers that teamwork is key in all parts of medicine and that life is good, enjoy it.

September 24, 2012 – Christopher Spaeth, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher II, Neuroscience

Spaeth meeting

We had our biggest turnout – 63 students – for our first meeting of the academic year. The Exploring students had the pleasure of listening to the guest speaker, Dr. Christopher Spaeth, who talked about his career path and his current research in neuroscience.

Dr. Spaeth studies how an unusual protein, Mical, directly disassembles the actin cytoskeleton and supports formation of normal axon growth and guidance, dendrite arborization, and synaptic connectivity. This is particularly important for studying the neuronal effects of drug abuse, since addictive drugs alter normal connections. There was a lot of excitement as students asked many questions following the presentation.

Afterward, students spent time getting to know each other through fun ice-breaker games.