Cai, a National Merit Scholar sophomore pursuing dual degrees in biology and mathematics, is from Tulsa, Okla. She is working with Anthony Burgett, OU assistant of chemistry and biochemistry, to synthesize and modify natural products that may inhibit the growth of certain human cancer cell lines. Last summer Cai participated in the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. There she used mathematical modeling to create optimized chemotherapy schedules for breast cancer treatment by targeting the cancer cells when they are most vulnerable to damage. In addition, she is listed as an author on an article based on the lab’s findings. For the summer of 2014, Cai conducted research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation as a Fleming Scholar, and while still in high school participated in a pharmacology mentorship at the OU College of Pharmacy. Upon graduation from OU, she plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in mathematical biology and then conduct research in mathematical modeling of cancer growth and treatment while teaching at a research-intensive medical school.
Cai is a member of the OU Honors College, a tutor for the OU Student Learning Center, and is active in several organizations, including the Henderson Scholars, the Asian-American Student Association, and the OU Math Club. She also studies piano at OU and is a medical scribe in the OU Emergency Department. Cai’s honors and awards include an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grant, the C. Eugene Spring Scholarship, the M. Blanche Adams and M. Frances Scholarship, and an NCI R25E Summer Research Experience Competitive Award. She is also an OU First-Year Research Experience participant and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Presidential Scholar. This summer she will continue to work with Professor Burgett.