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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

South Carolina Researcher Receives Distinguished Research Leadership Award

The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) recognized the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health’s exercise science professor and chair, Dr. James Carson as the 2016 recipient of the Distinguished Research Leadership Award at their 27th Annual Research Colloquium in Hartsville on January 30. Established in 2015, the award is designed to honor the distinguished scientists and engineers who mentor GSSM students through the school’s Summer Program for Research Interns. Dr. Carson, who has mentored students through GSSM’s summer research program for 12 years, is the second person to ever receive this award.

James Carson Award photo

[Photo: Dr. James Carson (left) with GSSM President Dr. Murray Brockman at the 27th Annual Research Colloquium on January 30]

The school’s one-of-a-kind Summer Program for Research Interns and its international counterpart, Research Experience for Scholars Program, provide avenues for seniors at GSSM to complete a requirement of their education—an independent research project overseen by scientists and business professionals from across the state and around the world. Under the mentorship of scientists like Dr. Carson, students conduct research for six weeks at universities or corporate research and development facilities.

The first cohort of students completed their projects during the summer of 1990 (with the international component beginning in 2011), and GSSM expects their largest class this summer with around 140 students participating. Along with this growth, South Carolina’s participation has increased as well. Throughout the program’s tenure, more than 2,000 students have conducted research internships with over 750 mentors. Within that pool, 185 faculty members have provided research placements to 530 students at South Carolina’s various campuses.

In 2015, researchers at the main campus in Columbia provided research opportunities to 41 students, including international participants from Germany and Korea. Dr. Carson himself mentored two GSSM students and two international students from that group.

During Ms. Emilia Ballou’s research 2015 project with Dr. Carson, she studied the effects of cancer on muscle wasting—one of Dr. Carson’s areas of expertise. Ms. Ballou learned skills and procedures of a research lab, including surgical techniques, as well as how an actual research lab is executed. “The opportunity to work in Dr. Carson’s lab gave me the practical skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in microbiology and helped refine my interests in exercise science,” she says.

On another project related to cancer and muscle wasting, Ms. Hemani Patel studied with Dr. Carson to learn about protein expression for individuals with these conditions. Ms. Patel’s experience in Dr. Carson’s lab has furthered her interest in biochemistry, which she plans to major in for her bachelor’s degree. She also plans to attend medical school and pursue a career conducting research in the field of genetics. “I am very grateful to have worked in a lab under a remarkable mentor like Dr. Carson,” says Ms. Patel.

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