Alissa Jackson’s love for lab work and investigation was inspired by an AP Biology class her senior year of high school. She was also involved in HOSA – Future Health Professionals, which is a national club for students interested in health care. Through working as an athletic training assistant and competing in sports medicine skills competitions with HOSA, Jackson realized that she enjoys interacting with people and doing productive, hands-on work.
Jackson earned her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2021 from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. She was accepted into the McNair Program. Her research mentor, Jonathan Cornett, PhD, worked with her on two summer research projects and her summer thesis project. Her summer research project studied a specific protein, TMEM67, and how mutant variants affect its function in kidney cells. Her thesis project focused on what factors might affect cancer cell susceptibility to irreversible electroporation. Working as a tutor, and later a teaching assistant, Jackson realized her enjoyment for mentoring students. She was accepted to a summer appointment at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to work with Jeffrey Scott Willey, PhD, Department of Biomedical Engineering, but the experience was canceled due to COVID-19. She planned to complete an appointment in the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute-funded Pediatric Oncology Education Program at St. Jude under the mentorship of Linda Hendershot, PhD, Department of Tumor Cell Biology, but that was also canceled due to COVID-19.
“One of my professors told me that everyone at St. Jude – medical staff, patients, and researchers – all enter through the same doors,” she says. “I find that to be a beautiful acknowledgment that the community of medicine is incredibly important. Everyone at St. Jude has a common goal of changing outcomes for children and families so they may experience fulfilling and flourishing lives.”
Hometown: Bulls Gap, Tennessee