BHS grad prepares for research trip

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kembe Keys

Kembe Keys

Brookhaven High School graduate Kembe Keys said she was excited to be given the chance to spend the summer doing chemistry research in China.

“Every year we’re required to do research over the summer,” the 2014 graduate said. “My adviser asked me if I wanted to do research in China this summer.”

Keys was chosen for the project through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute founded in 1953 by the famous aviator. She will be in China between May 31 and Aug. 2. She said she’ll either be looking for disease treatments through plant extracts or researching systematic molecular cellular and animal models, but she won’t know for sure until she gets there. Her work — and the work of the other participants —could determine the future of the program.

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“The program that does international research, it was discontinued a couple of years ago,” Keys said. “This is the first year they started

back. When we come back, we’ll have to present our research to see if they would continue the program or not.”

At Brookhaven High School, Keys was a member of track and basketball teams, and she was named to the National Honor Society. Today, Keys is a student at Tougaloo College where she majors in chemistry. She said it was her high school chemistry teacher, April Clopton, who introduced her to the subject.

“She made it fun,” Keys said. “I really love math, and I just like working with my hands. In the lab, it’s really fun to me.”

From Tougaloo, Keys hopes to go to medical school. She said her goal is to become a pediatric surgeon because of her love of children and because she wanted to take a treatment role rather than a purely preventative role.

“I like working with my hands, and I love children and like to see them smile,” Keys said.