BRF’s Bobbie Cates Hicks Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) program 2022-2023 class begins yearlong research studies


Eleven students from Caddo Parish schools are part of this year’s
Bobbie Cates Hicks Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) program.

The students will work alongside investigators at LSU Health Shreveport on various research
studies.

BRF launched the SMART program in 1997 to provide a yearlong research experience for 10 to
12 academically advanced high school seniors from Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto parishes.
SMART students must have a career interest in medicine, biomedical research or biomedical
engineering. Students in this year’s class are:

 Nhi Dao from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
 Caroline Hannigan from CE Byrd High School
 Elizabeth Klotzbach from CE Byrd High School
 Raj Letchuman from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
 Katherine Michael from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
 Chloe Miller from CE Byrd High School
 Gabrielle Miller from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
 Ben Muslow from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
 Sonya Patel from Caddo Parish Magnet High School
 Jaylen Pruitt from Captain Shreve High School
 Eshika Tandon from Caddo Parish Magnet High School

This year’s LSU Health Shreveport mentors are:

 J. Steven Alexander, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular
physiology
 Diana Cruz-Topete, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and
Cellular Physiology
 Elizabeth Disbrow, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director, Center for Brain
Health, Department of Neurology
 Lynn Harrison, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy
 Monica Cartelle Gestal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology and
Immunology
 Jason Bodily, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

 Christopher B. Pattillo, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular
physiology
 Giovanni Solitro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery
 Sumitra Miriyala, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Cellular Biology and Anatomy
 Andrew D. Yurochko, Ph.D.; Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Carroll

Feist Chair of Viral Oncology; Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging
Viral Threats; and PI of the NIH COPPER Center for Applied Immunology and
Pathological Processes

Funding for the program comes from the generosity of donors, including the late Bobbie Cates
Hicks, The Bruce J. Heim Foundation, The Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s Give for
Good donors, The Community Foundation of North Louisiana’s William C. Woolf Fund, and The
Magale Foundation.

The education of a future science and technology workforce is an important component of
BRF’s mission to diversify and grow the region’s economy. SMART has served 249 students in
the region.

SMART is a partnership among BRF; LSU Health Shreveport; and the Caddo, Bossier and
DeSoto Parish School Boards.

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