Summer is usually a time for students to relax, but for rising third-year student pharmacist Sydney Harrison, it's an chance to learn more. Last summer, she was part of the ORISE Research Participation Program at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This year, Sydney is at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after she was selected for the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement (RISE) Fellowship Program. Learn more about stellar student Sydney Harrison!
My mother is a microbiologist, and growing up I was always waiting for the next time she’d take me to the hospital’s lab with her. I knew from an early age I wanted to do something in the medical field. I eventually stumbled into pharmacy when I was selected to shadow a pharmacist in my hometown during middle school. Throughout the past few years, I have grown to love pharmacy through both my coursework and my research. I appreciate the diversity in opportunities available to pharmacists and the potential we have to impact public health as a whole.
Why Ole Miss?
When I came to tour the campus during my junior year of high school, I was in awe of the beauty of the campus, as most people are. But mostly, it reminded me of home— small, warm and people said “hi” on the sidewalk.
What did you do and learn from your internship at the FDA?
I worked within the Office of Clinical Pharmacology for the Division of Gastrointestinal, Liver, and Inborn Errors of Metabolism studying gastric pH-mediated drug-drug interactions and other related subjects. We frequently hear about the drug development process, and being able to experience the regulatory side of this process was eye-opening. Some of the greatest experiences I had at the FDA involved meeting pharmacists working at the FDA and learning the many different roles we can play within the organization.
What are you excited to experience this summer at the CDC?
I have been interested in the infectious disease field for years, so to be able to work at the primary center for infectious disease research in the U.S. is an honor. As with the FDA, I am again looking forward to meeting with pharmacists at the CDC and learning how our profession contributes to public health at this level.
What do you enjoy about working in a research lab?
I owe my passion for research to Dr. Bonnie Avery who brought me into her lab after my sophomore year of college. I completed my thesis research under Dr. Avery, studying pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism. I have also worked with Dr. Hoang Le for over two years conducting medicinal chemistry research. I am lucky to have worked with two incredibly supportive and forward-thinking mentors. One of my favorite aspects of research is being able to directly apply the science I have learned over the past five years and expand my critical-thinking abilities.
What are your career goals?
At this point in my education, my interests are mainly focused on infectious disease and public health, so I am considering applying for a PGY1 residency followed by either a PGY2 or academic fellowship that will allow me to specialize in infectious disease and further develop my research skills.
What is your favorite class?
My favorite class this past semester was Spanish for Pharmacists with Dr. Noa Valcarcel. Dr. Valcarcel is an outstanding professor, and with Mississippi having a large Spanish-speaking population, it was a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge of the language with a medical focus.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Seek challenges — it's easy to be comfortable, but some of my greatest successes have come from doing something that pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone.
What is on your bucket list?
See Fleetwood Mac live, go to the Kentucky Derby, learn how to play the harmonica.
What are your favorite things to do outside of the classroom?
During the summer, I always try to find new places to hike or kayak. In Oxford, I love to catch Thacker Mountain Radio Show or concerts at The Lyric when I get the chance.