Earlier this summer, eight talented high school students took part in a special “white coat” ceremony at the UNC Greensboro-NC A&T Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN). The event marked the students’ entry into the Draelos Science Scholars Program and the world of scientific research.

“Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was sitting where you are. And I have to say that day changed my life. That summer experience made me look at the world in ways I never looked at it before. And that’s what science does for you.”

“When medical students get their white coat, they’re signing on to accepting responsibilities, and your white coat has much the same aim,” research dermatologist Dr. Zoe Draelos told the students. “It means you have been given a gift, and you’re going to accept it.”

Inspired by Dr. Zoe Draelos’s profound experience in a summer research program as a high school student, she and her husband Dr. Michael Draelos founded the program to give local students an opportunity to experience college-level science in a research environment. The new cohort of students will spend the summer working closely with four UNC Greensboro faculty – in nanoscience, psychology, biology, and chemistry and biochemistry – and an NC A&T professor in nanoengineering.

“This isn’t a trivial thing to commit to university-level research for the summer,” said UNCG’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Kimberly Littlefield at the event.

“I have no doubt that this experience will establish a trailhead for future career and professional aspirations for the scholars. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was sitting where you are. And I have to say that day changed my life,” she told the newest class of Draelos Scholars. “That summer experience made me look at the world in ways I never looked at it before. And that’s what science does for you. You see things you never saw.”

The full version of this story originally appeared on the UNCG Research & Engagement website.

Story by Hope Voorhees
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications