BHS senior conducting research with UT’s polyMER program

Amanda Seale

When senior Madison Stott first heard about UT’s polyMER program, he was hesitant about joining up. A year later, he is one of two students in Knox County still involved in the extensive research program. “When I first asked him, he didn’t want to,” said Ms. Tracy Heflin, who told Stott about the program. “It was not what he wanted to do. Now I sort of giggle a little, but I’m not surprised at all. ” The polyMER program gives high school seniors the opportunity to get involved in different types of research at UT’s School of Medicine and College of Engineering. Stott, who started the program at the beginning of his junior year, works in the Department of Surgery and is studying biomedical engineering. “It’s basically engineering things that will be put in the body, like implants or prostheses ,” Stott said. With three AP classes this semester and four next semester, Stott spends the little free time he has to conduct his research. Though he can’t discuss any specifics, Stott says he is researching how to use a certain material to replace a valve in the vascular system. The work is mostly independent research which Stott says has shown him how much more he can grow. “I know that research is a challenging fiel d because it involves a whole lot of reading and having been in the program I guess I’m just more confident in my scientific knowledge,” Stott said. Stott’s classmates have no doubt that he will accomplish great things. “He will probably cure cancer or something incredible like that,” senior Andrew Stripling said. The end goal of the polyMER program is to have the research published in a medical or biomaterial journal. Stott has already looked into getting his work published and has “actually written the introduction.” Ms. Heflin is more than confident Stott could be published at his current level. “Madison can do whatever Madison decides to do,” she said.