NATCHITOCHES — Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts students Acacia Coker, of Zachary, and Sara Mixon, of Lake Charles, both members of the class of 2020, spent their summer vacation in North Carolina conducting research under two Duke University School of Medicine professors in oncology and virology.

The students worked with graduate students. Coker’s group studied the Epstein-Barr virus and the genetics of its proliferation, while Mixon’s group worked to determine ways for increasing a tumor’s responsiveness to radiation through oxygenation.

“Even your evenings weren’t free,” Mixon said. “Many of us read science literature at night.”

However, she said, “They took us to the mall and out to eat a few times.”

The opportunity to conduct research in North Carolina was provided by Micah Luftig, a 1994 graduate of LSMSA and associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University, in the virology lab. Funding for the research was provided in part by the LSMSA Foundation.

Coker and Mixon took a class through LSMSA’s sister school, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, to qualify for this opportunity. Once they were in the program, most of their days and nights were spent working at the university or preparing for their next day’s activities.

NCSSM’s 2019 Summer Research Internship Program lasted six weeks, with a one week break for the Fourth of July. At the end of the program, attendees presented their findings to the group.