Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s 2016 Fleming Scholars: Front row (left to right): Annelise Poss, Nicole Biddinger and Michael Harmon. Middle row (left to right): Caroline Say, Lindsey Purcell, Emily Wilkie, Joey Maher and Ariel Thorson. Back row (left to right): Evan McKinnis, Zane Dennis, Andrew Blattler, Dat Truong and Uday Kohli.

This week, OMRF welcomed its 61st class of Sir Alexander Fleming Scholars. The students, all graduates of Oklahoma high schools, were chosen from a pool of statewide applicants and will spend their summers working in OMRF laboratories with senior medical researchers on in-depth, individual research projects.
At the end of the summer, the students will write scientific papers and present their research results in formal seminars for OMRF’s scientific staff.
The program is named for Sir Alexander Fleming, the famed Nobel Prize-winning scientist who discovered penicillin and in 1949 dedicated OMRF’s first building. The program bearing his name was founded in 1956 to provide Oklahoma’s brightest high school and college students with hands-on experience in the lab.
“A summer at OMRF provides an experience unlike anything these students have had before,” said OMRF Fleming Scholar program coordinator Carlisa Curry. “This program provides a unique opportunity to work alongside some of the most respected scientists in their fields in the world, and it can kick-start their educational journey. They also infuse our labs with curiosity and a passion for knowledge that emanates energy throughout the foundation. It’s a truly special experience for all involved.”
Since the program began, more than 500 Oklahoma students have had their first taste of hands-on research under the guidance of OMRF scientists. Many have gone on to careers in medicine and research, including OMRF program heads Rodger McEver, M.D., and Judith James, M.D., Ph.D.
“Many of these students are already interested in careers in the laboratory, and this program provides a close-up look at what that’s really like,” said Curry. “This experience can tell them early on if they enjoy it and have an aptitude for it. It really helps send them down a path to future success.”
The 2016 Fleming Scholars are:
Nicole Biddinger, Bartlesville, Purdue University
Andrew Blattler, Oklahoma City, Mount St. Mary
Zane Dennis, Tulsa, Baylor University
Michael Harmon, Enid, Chisholm High School
Uday Kohli, Edmond, University of Oklahoma
Joey Maher, Yukon, Harding Charter Preparatory High School
Evan McKinnis, Oklahoma City, Classen School of Advanced Studies
Lindsey Purcell, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma State University
Annelise Poss, Tulsa, Oklahoma State University
Caroline Say, Oklahoma City, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dat Truong, Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma
Emily Wilkie, Oklahoma City, Classen School of Advanced Studies
Ariel Thorson, Oklahoma City, Bethany High School