Student athlete sees her future in summer internship

Release Date: 11/16/2011

Sabrina Goddard is busy. Last year, Goddard, a 6-foot-1 native of Depew, Okla., led the Lady Eagles basketball team to their first winning season since 2001-02 and back to the ASC tournament after a three-year absence.

In addition to her classwork, when not on the court as team captain, Goddard is a member of Ozarks Alchemists, U of O's chemistry club; a member of the Tri-Beta, U of O's biology honor society; a member of the professional development committee for the academic enrichment fund; a tutor for both elementary and intensive Spanish; a coach for 5th and 6th grade girls' basketball for the Johnson County Girls Club; and she shadows Dr. Robert Noonan at Clarksville Family Medical Center.

Sabrina and Andrea at UAMS.

Ozarks students Sabrina Goddard and Andrea Muffuletto both had summer internships at UAMS.

And she is preparing for medical school. During the summer, she spent 10 weeks working with Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dr. Alan B. Diekman, at the University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock, as part of an undergraduate research fellowship.

"Dr. Alan Tackett from UAMS came to speak at Ozarks last spring and recommended that I apply to the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program," she said. "In the application for the SURF program we were to choose three professors that we were interested in having as our mentor. I chose Dr. Diekman's lab, and he accepted me."

The purpose of the SURF program is to introduce qualified, highly-motivated undergraduates to research under the guidance of seasoned research mentors. SURF students work with researchers in a broad range of areas including biochemistry, structural biology and chemistry, molecular, cell and reproductive biology, toxicology, aging, nutrition, and neuroscience.

Unlike many students, who help more advanced researchers with their projects, Goddard had her own projects, aided by Dr. Diekman and his grad student assistant. "They trained me in all of the techniques I did this summer and helped me with any experimental difficulties," Goddard said. "I was so happy to be in the lab I was in because it was small and personal. Dr. Diekman recently told me that they are working on a journal article in which I will be one of the authors, so it looks like some of my research will be published!"

Goddard's project, though highly technical, has a serious and important purpose - she studied a protein that can be used to determine an individual's susceptibility to prostate cancer.

"They're doing very important research at UAMS," Goddard said. "Dr. Diekman is an andrologist, a scientist who studies male fertility and health. He has applied for a grant to study it further. I'd like to go back next summer and continue my research. I hated having to leave when my time was up!"

As an athlete, Goddard said she thought her original area of focus would be orthopedic medicine, but that during her course in biochemistry she became interested in gastro-neurology, and then family practice. "Honestly I love every aspect of medicine I've studied," she said. "In medical school, the first year you take a general interest test to see where you might fit in, and during the third and fourth years you go on rounds with doctors. I figure I'll know where I want to be by then. I enjoy patient interaction, but I'm really interested in doing some clinical research later, also."

Goddard has been applying to medical schools both here and back home in Oklahoma. "I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next," she said.