Sherry Fleming, Director of the Johnson Cancer Research Center
By Sherry Fleming
I’m Dr. Sherry Fleming, currently, the Director of the Johnson Cancer Research Center and a professor in Biology. However, I also was a first-generation student as my Dad was a carpenter and my Mom worked in a grocery store. In addition, I was a non-traditional student as a military spouse and obtained my BS and MS in Microbiology from K-State. After continuing my education, I returned to K-State (Go Cats!) to share my love of research. So, I have similarities and differences to many of you, but I found that we can all succeed.
As a professor, my research involves the immune system over-reacting to cause disease. I also look at differences in the male and female immune responses to cancer and other diseases. I teach classes that involve the immune system and human disease. To me, the most important aspect of my job is to share the importance of the immune system and make research exciting to everyone. There are many ways of getting involved in research. One way is to be involved in various programs that pay you to do research. K-INBRE is a program that pays undergraduates to work in the laboratory doing REAL science experiments. The K-INBRE also sponsors a regional meeting at which all students present their research.
Another way of being involved in research is to become a Cancer Research Awardee. The Johnson Cancer Research Center is an administrative hub for cancer researchers within 19 departments across five colleges. We provide awards for faculty and students to perform basic cancer research – understanding how cancer is different from normal cells, developing new treatments to try in animal models of cancer, developing equipment for diagnosing cancer earlier and identifying additional ways of preventing cancer. I had no idea about research until I received a Cancer Research Award (CRA) as an undergraduate. The award allowed me to find my passion for research, improved my grades, helped with time management skills and much more.
Today, our donors usually provide 35-40 undergraduate student awards each year. These awards provide research experiences to undergrads in STEM majors as well as some non-science related departments. As a researcher, you become part of the lab and participate in all aspects of finding a cure for cancer! K-State initiated my research career and provides many possible avenues for you to find your passion as well.