Student picked for internship at research center

A Western Carolina University student will be rubbing elbows with medical researchers at the Cannon Research Center in Charlotte this summer as she takes part in a 10-week internship.

Peyton Leigh Flinchum

Peyton Leigh Flinchum, a sophomore nutrition and dietetics major from Burlington, was one of 25 college students chosen from a field of 75 applicants to participate in the Cannon Summer Scholars Program, which provides an opportunity for academically talented students to work closely with mentors who are performing original research at the center.

Students receive a $5,000 stipend during the program, which begins Tuesday, May 29, and runs through Friday, Aug. 3. Cannon Research Center is part of the Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System.

Flinchum, the daughter of Mitchell and Teri Flinchum of Burlington, said she will be working on a research project titled “Principles of Contemporary Clinical and Translational Research in Liver, Digestive and Metabolic Disorders.” Her principal mentors will be Dr. Herbert L. Bonkovsky, a director of research for Carolinas HealthCare System and professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Dr. Mark Russo, medical director of the Program in Liver Transplantation at the system’s Carolinas Medical Center.

Participating students attend weekly meetings to share their research plans with other students and the center’s faculty, and students present their findings at a student research day held during the final week of the program.

A 2010 graduate of Burlington Christian Academy, Flinchum enrolled at WCU in the fall of that year as a member of the university’s Honors College. She was recently elected to a second term as vice president of the Honors College student board of directors, and she also is one of two student members of WCU’s General Education Task Force.

Flinchum said her long-term plans are to complete her degree in nutrition and dietetics at WCU and then fulfill a required one-year internship to become a registered dietician. “I’d like to work in some aspect of community nutrition, and help keep people out of the hospital,” she said.

Honors College Dean Brian Railsback said Flinchum is “an outstanding honors student and a valued member of our leadership team.”

“I knew Peyton would be a good candidate for this prestigious internship, and I’m sure she’ll do a great job,” Railsback said.