November 15, 2018

Ten Graduate from UAMS/TRI Community Scientist Academy

Researcher Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D., threw down the gauntlet for the 10 graduates of the UAMS Community Scientist Academy.

“You can’t stop here,” Haynes, assistant professor in the UAMS College of Public Health, said in her keynote speech. She urged the group at their Oct. 30 graduation to share their experience in the academy on social media to help spread the word. She advised them not to be shy about letting UAMS researchers know about their interests and the needs of their communities.

“Don’t wait to find out what research projects are going on at UAMS,” Haynes said. “You come and ask us, ‘What’s going on? How can I get involved?’ Whatever it is you’re passionate about, ask us. You are health champions; you’re on the front lines.”

Haynes got enthusiastic applause, and academy graduate Ferrin Lunestad of Hot Springs said afterward that the call to action resonated with her.

“I’d love to be a science advocate in my own hometown,” Lunestad said. “I have a 6-year-old, and I love the appeal that she made to look at our communities and see what’s needed in a science direction —  recommend research that needs to be done.”

The UAMS Translational Research Institute established the Community Scientist Academy in 2016 on the recommendation of its Community Advisory Board. Its purpose is to increase community understanding about the research process and offer research decision-making opportunities to communities, patients and other stakeholders. These opportunities include reviewing grants; advising on research projects; serving on community review boards, community advisory boards, and patient and family advisory councils; and assisting with ARresearch, the Translational Research Institute’s research participant registry.

Through five academies it has graduated 54 Arkansans from diverse communities and a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Below is a sampling of comments other graduates made at the Oct. 30 graduation ceremony:

“I wanted to learn more about research because I previously had an injury and my mother died from breast cancer.” — Sherita Williams, Little Rock

“I was interested because I have been a research participant and I was interested in looking at the other side of it. I learned that a whole lot of work goes into research; it takes years.” — Christine Murrell, Little Rock

“I learned a lot from this class. There’s probably six or seven (volunteer participant opportunities) that I checked off the list that I would be interested in.” – J.A. Young, Little Rock