University News

WIU Pre-Med Student In NASA Summer Program

May 6, 2002

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MACOMB, IL - - Scientific research supporting space exploration has improved the quality of life right here on earth. Thousands of products and technologies we take for granted - - ranging from Saran wrap to scratch-resistant lenses to cardiac imaging and laser angioplasty - - are spinoffs of this research.

This summer Tanya Do (pronounced TANyah Dough), a Western Illinois University junior pre-medicine student from Keokuk, IA, will head to the Florida Space Coast to participate in a six-week "traineeship" with NASA scientists. She is among 30 collegians nationwide to be accepted into this year's NASA Spaceflight and Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) at the Kennedy Space Center.

Do, who is majoring in biology with an option in zoology for pre-medicine and has minors in microbiology and chemistry, chose the NASA program over another summer research opportunity at the Mount Desert Island Marine Biological Laboratory in Maine.

"I definitely didn't choose NASA for the money, the stipend is need-based and not guaranteed, where as the other would have funded my expenses in addition to a $3,000 stipend," Do said. "I felt it (NASA) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I simply couldn't pass up"

Do will be enrolled in a course called Special Problems in Environmental, Spaceflight and Life Sciences, which is offered through Tuskegee University; and she will be assigned to one of three emphasis groups: control biological systems, ecological programs, or flight engineering and management program. A typical day will include five to six hours of experiential research and two to three hours of lectures and tours related to space flight and research. Evening and weekend academic and social activities are also planned.

"It's going to be going to summer school with classes taught by astronauts, payload specialists and other prestigious scientists and weekend field trips to Disney World and SeaWorld," Do said.

The 1999 Keokuk High School graduate, whose goal is to become a medical doctor, originally wanted to attend Drake University, but finances were an issue. She chose to stay closer to home at WIU, less than one hour east of Keokuk.

"I figured I would go to Western for a year and then take the next year planning and preparing to go to another university," Do said. "But I got here, I liked it and I decided to stay.

"I have become actively involved in several campus activities including Student Government Association, hall government, orientation staff, the WISDOM Conference and various honor societies," she added. "I've enjoyed being an (Illinois Centennial Honors College) Honors student because it has allowed me some significant opportunities I wouldn't have had elsewhere."

She earned sophomore and senior Honors scholarships and was awarded an Honors College research grant for her Honor's thesis work with associate biology professor Tom Alton.

"I am studying on a more molecular level, focusing on the heat-shock proteins in a species of Archaea called ‘Haloarcula quadrata,'" Do said. "This research has helped me to jump one more step ahead."

Following the NASA program, Do said she "looks forward to sharing my experiences and offering assistance to others in either researching internships or applying for them."

Tanya is the daughter of Long and Marlene Do.

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