Forest Park, IL...
During her junior year at Proviso Math and Science Academy, Christina Bolek took a scientific research core class that she enjoyed.
That encouraged her to apply and eventually be accepted into the Research Mentorship Program in which she was placed at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University. Every Tuesday after school since late November, she conducted research. Her research topic was
"Comparative Studies on the Anticoagulant, Antiprotease and Thrombin Generation Inhibition on Various Generic Versions of Low Molecular Weight Heparins, Enoxaparins" with Dr. Jawed Fareed, a Loyola University pathology and pharmacology professor and the director of the Special Coagulation Laboratory and the Hemostasis and Thrombosis Research Program.
Christina, now a senior, said that she thought the research experience would help her prepare to enter the field of forensic chemistry, which she plans to study at the University of Mississippi this fall.
"I thought it would sound better for colleges," she said of the research. "I knew what I would learn during this would give me the skills I would need in that career. Plus, it would challenge me and be fun."
During her research, Christina watched how blood particles were separated from plasma in a centrifuge. She then would put different drugs in the plasma to test its coagulation and compare the results.
The work was a learning experience, she said.
"I learned about the competitiveness of the medical field and the day-to-day operations of a lab," Christina said. "It was an awesome experience I probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere."
Christina will get a chance to further her work at the lab. She has been invited to return to Loyola in October to present her research at Loyola’s annual St. Albert’s Day Research Symposium. She will present alongside junior and senior medical student researchers as well as professional researchers.
Mrs. Kim Echols, principal at PMSA, said that this was an "amazing partnership" between PMSA and Loyola that has allowed Christina and other students to get real-world experience that they otherwise would not have had.
"As a result of conducting research at the high school level, Christina is ready to begin taking courses in her area of interest during her freshman year," Mrs. Echols said. "I know that she will make a profound impact on the field of forensic chemistry."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that students such as Christina have taken full advantage of the opportunities given to them. She said that in talking with Christina, she can see how valuable the opportunity has been.
"Our students are able to work side-by-side with professionals in a variety of fields, thanks to our mentorship programs," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "Christina has learned what it takes to work in her field and I am sure that she will go far."