Full Circle:
Mentoring the Next Generation through Sustained MRSEC Support

Renita Horton (MRSEC REU05, PhD 14) featured participating in MRSEC programs with participants.
Top left: Renita Horton (MRSEC REU05, PhD '14) presents her REU research at an Industrial Outreach Workshop at Harvard. Top right: Renita shares her path to engineering with Cambridge high school students. Bottom left: Renita and fellow graduate student Marjan Rafat discuss their PhD research with MRSEC external advisory board member Gabriel López. Bottom right: Renita Horton and Sydney Reed (MRSEC REU18) in Kit Parker's laboratory.

One of the most important outcomes of the MRSEC at Harvard is the development of leaders in materials science research, and instilling a culture of the importance of mentoring the next generation. Renita Horton embarked on her research career in the summer of 2005 as an REU intern at the MRSEC at Harvard. Before her internship, she had not considered graduate school. Hooked by her REU experience, she began her PhD studies at Harvard the following year, and completed her PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship with Kevin (Kit) Parker. She returned to her alma mater Mississippi State University as a faculty member, and collaborated with Kit Parker. In 2018, she selected Sydney Reed, a chemical engineering student at MSU, to work with her and Kit Parker as an REU at the Center on understanding cues that promote pancreatic islet cell growth. In 2019, Renita Horton has joined the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Houston. Her research interest lies in better understanding the factors leading to heart disease and sickle cell anemia where she hopes to use that knowledge to improve patient care and outcomes. This example of sustained collaboration and next-generation mentoring is one of hallmarks of the MRSEC.

K.K. Parker (OEB, Physics, SEAS) and David A. Weitz (Physics & Applied Physics)
2018-2019 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-1420570)