Lun Gualnan, a senior at University of Texas at San Antonio, pondered becoming a nurse or physician, but her goal is to foster accomplishments in health policy that impact a lot of people. She’s pursuing a degree in public health.
Gualnan was one of eight college students who participated in the Temple Health and Bioscience District Summer Scholars program this year. The students presented their research posters at an event Friday at Wildflower Country Club.
This was the first year for the THBD scholars program.
Tami Annable and David Sprague, along with Colin Dodson and Ryan Quinn of SiMMo3D, and others worked out the particulars for the internships.
“The city of Temple is about making connections with partners and students,” Temple Mayor Tim Davis said.
Most of the students who spent their summer in Temple doing research will be leaving to go back to school and Davis said he hopes they remember Temple fondly as they move through their careers.
Gualnan spent her summer working with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Public Health Region 7 in Temple. Her project looked at the transmission of communicable diseases, particularly mumps, in migrants entering the U.S. via the Texas/Mexico border.
Gualnan quickly discovered that the detention centers holding the migrants may be U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement centers, but all are run by private contractors that don’t necessarily follow ICE protocols.
Most United States residents are vaccinated for mumps, but since 2016 there has been an increase of mumps at universities, schools and school competitions. Mumps spread through direct contact with saliva and respiratory droplets.
From Oct. 2018 to July 2019, 407 mumps cases have been documented at immigration detention centers.
Gualnan looked at developing a policy to require all those coming into the centers be inoculated for mumps. All the centers use different data bases and medical records don’t follow the immigrants from center to center, which could result in someone being vaccinated for the same disease several times.
Gualnan said the opportunities she had this summer have been amazing.
“In reality, I only have a high school diploma, yet my experiences this summer are beyond what many graduate students have had,” she said.
Isabella Cano worked with David Dostal, acting associate chief of staff for research at Central Texas Veterans Health Care.
Cano worked on diagnosing diastolic heart failure using imaging.
Ultimately, we want to be able to diagnose the heart failure earlier, she said.
Cano is a biomedical engineering student at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Imaging was one of the tracks available in the program, but Cano said she didn’t think she would be interested.
“After this internship I’ve changed my mind,” she said. “I want to put a little more focus on this.”
Sprague said he’s grateful for the mentors who took the students into their labs.
The students did real work and were able to propel a variety of research forward, he said.
“You guys made Temple look good,” Sprague said.