PROMISE program offers students research experience

Ariana Edwards gains career focus and professional connections while still in high school

Student in lab coat uses a handheld instrument in the Sanford Research lab.

If you’re looking at a career in biomedical sciences, Ariana Edwards can’t speak highly enough about the PROMISE summer program at Sanford Research.

Edwards, a senior at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, worked in the Pilaz Lab at Sanford Research in the summer of 2022. She described the experience as “amazing,” and said the fully immersive research program was unlike any she’d done before.

Studying diseases

“The lab I was in specifically studied a disease called BPAN. Part of my project was looking at the localization of a specific protein called WDR45, which plays a key role in the disease. This involved taking pictures of many neurons and looking at where specific proteins were localizing within the neurites and processing that data,” she explained.

BPAN disease, or Beta-propeller protein associated neurodegeneration, progressively damages a patient’s nervous system, building up iron in the brain.

Gaining experience and mentors

It’s unique for high school students to gain this real-world experience, Edwards said.

“It was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to solidify what I want to do with my future and enabled the formation of lasting connections with my peers and mentors whom I met at Sanford,” Edwards recollected.

When it comes to the future, Edwards is still undecided, “but I know that wherever I go, I want to major in neuroscience or biochemistry.”

In the meantime, her plate stays quite full at Washington.

“I am involved in over 20 clubs and activities which sounds crazy but my planner is color-coded, so I manage!”

Edwards said she recommends the program to anyone thinking of a potential career in research.

Students must apply for the summer program by Jan. 31. Learn more and apply.

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Posted In Research, Undergrad College Resources