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NMSU Public Health graduate students to intern at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Mayra Lovas and Swati Somuri, New Mexico State University College of Health and Social Services graduate students, have been selected as summer interns at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Two women standing
Mayra Lovas (left) and Swati Somuri, graduate students in the New Mexico State University Department of Public Health Sciences, will be interning at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle this summer. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

The internship runs from mid-June to mid-August and allows graduate students to conduct cancer research in the Hutchinson Center?s division of public health sciences, which includes faculty who specialize in areas such as epidemiology, cancer prevention, health disparities, health economics, biostatistics, bioinformatics and molecular diagnostics.

?Mayra and Swati will have the opportunity to work with world-renowned cancer researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center,? said Rebecca Palacios, NMSU public health sciences assistant professor. ?This opportunity will enhance their resumes and increase their skills to work as public health specialists.?

The program provides students with experience and mentorship in diverse aspects of cancer research. Students in the program, along with their mentors, will design a research project. Also, students will participate in weekly research seminars, professional development workshops and a competitive poster session.

Lovas and Somuri, who both graduate with their master?s degrees in public health in August following the internship, said they are excited to begin the program.

?It?s an amazing opportunity to get to go to Washington and work with such esteemed researchers,? Lovas said. ?The knowledge I will gain there is going to be invaluable and will make me a stronger public health educator for New Mexico.?

?I?m really interested in the nutrition and behavioral aspects of cancer research, and that?s what I am hoping to gain at the Hutchinson Center,? Somuri said.

Lovas said she is interested in researching all types of cancer.

?I have personally known people affected by breast, colorectal, skin, ovarian and prostate cancer,? Lovas said. ?Cancer is everywhere and affects most of us. I am more interested in understanding ways to prevent and manage cancer.?

Somuri, who earned a bachelor?s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Texas, said her experiences in the state?s capital led her to a graduate degree at NMSU.

?I think I was interested in nutrition and public health because Austin was just a fit city,? Somuri said. ?It molded my behaviors in who I am as a person now.?

A Lovington, N.M. native, Lovas said she wants to work in public health in New Mexico before pursuing a doctoral degree. She has a bachelor?s degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism management and master?s degree in family and child science from NMSU.

?I want to educate and empower communities to become healthier and more confident to fight for what they need through policy building initiatives and education programs,? she said.

An Albuquerque native, Somuri said she hopes the internship helps her to decide the next step in her career.

?I?m at a crossroads right now, because I have always been so focused on becoming a doctor and I don?t know if there is maybe something else I could be doing,? Somuri said. ?That?s why I applied for this internship to figure out what I want to do and how I can contribute to the research or medical field.?

For more information on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, visit www.fhcrc.org.