Wayland Baptist’s Welch Research Program creating physicians, scientists

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:49 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Wayland Baptist is creating a new generation of scientists and physicians through its Welch summer research program.

The program gives graduate-level instruction to undergrads preparing for the next step in their careers. The eight-week summer program gives graduate-level training to undergrads in the stem field.

Seniors Sidney Perez, Tierra Lozano, and Araceli Torres all went through the Welch program. Torres and Lozano hope to become doctors and Perez a veterinarian.

“It’s definitely helped me in my future career to, like I said, be confident push myself and really explore new things,” Lozano said.

Torres says future participants will have their work cut out for them as they encounter new obstacles.

“Not everything is going to be handed to you,” Torres said. “I had to do some procedures that I had never even done before. On my own. So I feel like I got a mental preparation of when a problem could be handed to me and how to solve it.”

Perez says those challenges that students face in the program help prepare them for the next step. Whatever it may be.

“That is something that we can use not only when we graduate from Wayland,” Perez said. “It’s something we can use when we apply to graduate school. It’s something we can apply to life.”

While in the Welch program Lozano found a way to isolate a possible cause of mutation and drug resistance in tuberculosis. Torres’ summer project showed promising results in isolating compounds found in plant extracts to treat prostate cancer cells. Perez used a PCR-based approach to study horned lizard’s DNA to determine the sex of hatchlings in an effort to find out why the lizard’s population is dropping.

Those projects take weeks of work to complete. Often keeping students busy from sunup to sundown.

“Just the hours and dedication,” Perez said. “It will only prepare us for the assumptions that are to come in medical school or veterinary school. You’ve got to put in the work to get the results that you want.”

Dean Adam Reinhart says the successful research projects through the Welch program helped WBU raise $9 million to pay for renovations and a new science building the university broke ground on earlier this year.

The program’s success also helped influence a $1.3 million dollar NSF grant to help produce more stem teachers.