Mentoring the Next Generation of Scientists

Released: Thursday, November 03, 2016

Tuskegee University veterinary student Janna Hunt dreams of working with the USDA and one day inspecting animals for diseases in an effort to safeguard the food supply. She spent two summer internships at the USDA building an already impressive resume, and this summer she dedicated her time to learning more about basic research under the mentorship of Dr. Jackie Stephens and her team in Pennington Biomedical's adipocyte biology laboratory.

"Several people in my family have diabetes, and I wanted to learn more about science and diabetes and to see if this might be an avenue that I want to explore as a career," Hunt said. She is a recipient of a Merial National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Program Award which is aimed at providing veterinary medical students with the opportunity to explore the world of biomedical research and engage in creative, problem-solving research activities and to provide learning experience that will lead to the discovery of new knowledge.

Hunt's days at Pennington Biomedical were filled with new experiences such as observing gene expression and collecting fat deposits from mice – experiences that she says have helped to broaden her scientific perspective.

"We never learned about fat deposits in vet school—I never knew there were different kinds of fat all throughout the body with different levels of importance, so it's been pretty awesome to learn about those. After this internship, I can see now the avenues which veterinarians can take in lab medicine and why those positions are so important," Hunt said.

Hunt plans to recommend an internship at Pennington Biomedical to her fellow students. Said Hunt: "This internship has helped me better understand the biology of animals on the cellular level. It was a truly rewarding experience. I couldn't have asked for a better lab to join."

Learn more about training and education programs at Pennington Biomedical.

* Dr. Stephens holds the Claude B. Pennington, Jr. Endowed Chair

For more information on how you can support this and other projects at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, visit