Outreach Programs

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  • Base Pair Mentorship Program

    "Base pair" refers to the two complementary bases of the DNA helix which form the structure of the molecule from which all life begins. In the same way, a mentorship program called "Base Pair" teams Jackson Public School students with practicing scientists at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

    Base Pair students are selected for their interest and aptitude in science. Each student is paired with a UMMC scientist or "mentor" whose area of research closely matches the interest of the student. Mentors are all scientists of the first rank who do original research and publish regularly in scholarly journals. The number of students who participate in Base Pair is determined largely by the number of mentors who volunteer; the program averages 10 students annually.

    The first semester of the program begins in the home school where teachers prepare students for the second semester when four afternoons each week are spent at UMMC. Students spend three afternoons a week working individually in the laboratory with their mentor. One afternoon is reserved for a group meeting with program director where the week's laboratory experience and outside reading are discussed.

    The students learn laboratory and research skills, scientific documentation and presentation. Each student is required to make a presentation on their research findings and experiences to "colleagues" at UMMC at semester's end. The mentors also encourage students to present abstracts at the annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences meeting.

    Students receive academic credit for their participation in Base Pair while they get a real taste of the life of the scientist. Base Pair encourages the pursuit of science as a career by demonstrating the challenge and intellectual excitement of biomedical science. Even if students don't pursue careers in science, they are given a new appreciation of how science affects the daily lives of everyone - regardless of occupation.

    Students who are interested in participating in Base Pair should contact their science teacher and principal.

    For more information, contact the Base Pair director:

    • Professor Rob Rockhold, Ph.D.
      • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
      • University of Mississippi Medical Center
      • 2500 N. State Street
      • Jackson, MS 39216-4505
      • Phone:(601) 984-1634
      • E-mail: rockhold@pharmacology.umsmed.edu