SOUTH FORSYTH — A year ago, Alexandra Flemington was finishing up swim season and her final year of high school. Today, she is performing research at a major state university.
Flemington, a 2014 graduate of South Forsyth High School, was recently accepted as an undergraduate fellow in the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia.
“For a freshman to get into research is very rare I found out, just because you don’t have a lot of experience at the university,” Flemington said. “So a lot of the time professors don’t want to do research with you because you’re so new.
“I emailed six or seven professors and only one ended up ever getting in touch with me.”
The center, which was established in 2004, researches new treatments for Alzheimer’s, heart and Parkinson’s diseases.
“It’s actually a relatively new program, they’re just starting it up at UGA,” Flemington said. “I’m actually doing research at the university currently under Dr. Jarrod Call. We’re doing a study in the way muscles repair themselves after injury based on the number of mitochondria in the cells.”
Under Call, Flemington is conducting research on lab mice.
“We’re actually testing on mice the use of different drugs,” she said. “One [is] to increase the number of mitochondria in the cell, another one to inhibit old, broken mitochondria from being gotten rid of in the cells, and seeing if the differences in that after muscle injuries affects the time it takes to repair.”
Flemington said she wanted to do research following her years in the pool, which concluded last year at South with some top eight state finishes.
“I was a competitive swimmer for 11 years,” Flemington said. “So I’ve had my fair share of muscle injury and the frustration of it not healing as fast as you would expect. And I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do something involving muscles.”
Though she is one of the rare freshmen to be doing research, like most first-year students Flemington’s future is full of options.
“I plan to go to medical school after undergraduate research,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to go with that.
“I know that I either want to go into orthopedics, whether it be orthopedic surgeon or just a general orthopedic doctor, and I was also looking at maybe emergency medicine with just injuries in general.”