SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Caddo Parish Schools, LSU Health Shreveport, and BRF have an academic partnership that introduces high school students to biomedical sciences as potential college and career pathways.

Southwood High School’s Biotechnology Academy students worked on research projects for LSUHS BioStart before they graduate high school.

“This program was created to introduce more students into the biomedical sciences and hopefully lead to more careers in the biomedical sciences,” Ty Martinez, LSU Health Shreveport BioStart Coordinator, said.

The young minds work alongside doctors. Learning about basic science and creating a final project encapsulating their research.

“It’s a relief feeling because I’ve been working on this, and it was really difficult to undergo. So it was like here, look at what I did. It’s a good moment to be proud of what I did. Overall a really great feeling. It’s like woo!” said Lexi Livingston, mentored by Dr. Steven Alexander.

Students enrolled in the course tackle hands-on experiments.

“So I made two models practicing endovascular surgery, which is where you can remove blood clots and treat an aneurysm,” Livingston said.

Student Whitney Jones said the BioStart program was no joke at first.

“Trying to figure out how to do the poster. So at the start, when I first got it, I was like, how in God’s name am I supposed to start this poster? But as I kept going through it, I said okay, here it is; there it goes, we got it!” Jones said.

She began with counting cells and going from there. She was mentored by Dr. Krista Rodgers, assistant professor of cellular biology.

“I was very impressed by all the student’s work. Particularly with Whitney Jones, who was in my laboratory working on some pretty complex neuronal signaling,” Dr. Rodgers said.

Jones said the program helped bring her out of her shell and encourages younger students to challenge themselves.

“It’s helped me be able to conversate and communicate and be able to ask questions if I was confused…because boy, was I confused,” Jones said.

LSU Health’s BioStart program combines curiosity with real-world application to prepare students in Shreveport for a bright future.

“Certainly, with advanced science training, Whitney learned a lot of techniques that are usually reserved for beginning graduates students, so she was already working on those being professional, and career development. She’s been accepted into LA Tech, so I think all of this science will definitely help here in that regard,” Rodgers said.