TAMS student creates samples for International Space Station

Thursday, March 4, 2004

DENTON (UNT) Texas — When she began her research internship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center last summer, Anne Gan thought she’d only study genes that are vital to the development of all organisms.She ended up also growing protein crystals for study on the International Space Station. This research earned Gan, the daughter of Paulus and Vanthaya Gan of Dallas and a student at the University of North Texas’ Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida funded by the Texas Space Grant Consortium. Gan is a second-year student in TAMS, a two-year residential program that allows talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while earning their high school diplomas. Students enroll in the academy following their sophomore year in high school, live in a UNT residence hall and attend UNT classes with college students. After two years, they enroll at UNT or another university to finish their bachelor’s degrees.Gan will leave for Florida March 13 with 20 other high school students from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and return March 20. During the week, the students will also visit Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, MGM Studios and the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Cape Canaveral. They will also attend a banquet honoring their contributions to space science.“I’m really looking forward to Disney World, of course, but I think the thing I’ll enjoy the most is getting the chance to tour the Kennedy Space Center,” Gan said. “It will be humbling to be honored there.”Gan was one of 21 Texas students chosen to participate in the Protein Crystallization and Microgravity Research Workshop sponsored by the Texas Space Grant Consortium last summer after submitting an essay. “The particular proteins we studied are made up of 20 amino acids. There isn’t a computer program that can tell us what the proteins look like, so we need to grow them in crystals,” Gan said. “Both of my experiences in the UT-Southwestern lab and my lab classes at UNT helped me complete the protein crystal growth experiment successfully.” After growing the protein crystals, Gan and the other students spent one day assisting scientists from the Marshall Space Flight Center to seal the samples in small tubes. The samples are frozen until they can be transferred to the International Space Station. During the day, the students also met U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Dr. Mary Ellen Weber, associate vice president of UT-Southwestern’s Office of Technology Development and a former astronaut.Gan attended Townview Magnet School in Dallas before enrolling in TAMS in August 2002. A National Merit Scholar, she is involved in the McConnell Hall Association, Art Club and the Academy Ambassadors. She is president of Helping Other People Everywhere, a community service organization.After graduating from TAMS in May, Gan plans to attend a liberal arts university to major in art history and chemistry and minor in mathematics. She has received an $11,000 scholarship from Trinity University in San Antonio. She has also been accepted to Emory University in Atlanta and has applied to Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, American University in Washington, D.C., and Washington University in St. Louis.

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