WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A computer science graduate student at Midwestern State University has been selected for an internship with the National Institute of Health.

Leslie Cook has been chosen to intern with the NIH in biomedical research.

Cook will be interning with the Biomedical Informatics section of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program, to help analyze over 20 years of patient medical data.

Summer internships at the National Institutes of Health, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, provide an opportunity for students to spend a summer working side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research.

The internships attract applicants from universities across the country.

As a non-traditional student who returned to college 12 years after graduating from high school and as a single mother, Cook hopes her accomplishments will inspire other women, mothers, and young people to never stop learning and growing, and pursuing their goals.

Cook said that Assistant Professor of Physics Preet Sharma played an integral role in her academic progress and achievements.

“Our group is the Non-Linear Science Research Group, where we focus on theoretical and computational biophysical phenomena,” Cook said. “His mentorship has opened the door to so many opportunities that I know increased my chances of attaining this internship.”

Sharma said hundreds of students apply for this internship, but Cook’s work ethic and abilities stood out above the rest.

“These programs are highly competitive,” Sharma said. “Leslie is talented and has worked hard for this opportunity,”

Cook’s internship will be virtual rather than in-person, but it will still be a full-time, eight-week intensive research experience with opportunities for scholarly and professional development.

Earlier this year, Cook presented at the third annual Biophysics and Quantitative Biology Conference and Workshop at MSU Texas, and her presentation was published in Reports and Advances of Physical Sciences.

Cook is also a student researcher with Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Fu-Cheng Liang, studying the protein alpha-synuclein, which causes neurodegenerative symptoms in Parkinson’s disease patients.

She is a member of the MSU Texas programming club and is involved in research with the Computer Science Department.