Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Viper Day uses speakers, games and posters to introduce venom research to area high schoolers

KINGSVILLE - January 25, 2007

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

KINGSVILLE (January 25, 2007) — Some 350 students from South Texas high schools will be on the Texas A&M-Kingsville campus Friday, Feb. 9, for Viper Day.

Hosted by the Natural Toxins Research Center (NTRC), Viper Day is an event that gives high school students a sample of the biomedical research conducted at the NTRC and shows them the benefits of pursuing a degree in sciences.

High schools scheduled to participate include Odem, H.M. King, San Diego, Benavides, Bruni, Falfurias, Aransas Pass and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo.

Viper Day participants will learn about NTRC venom research from posters designed by NTRC graduate and undergraduate researchers, and from presentations by NTRC staffers and guests.

Dr. Irene Olivarez Vanderhoof, a practicing physician in upstate New York, will serve as the keynote speaker at the event. University president Dr. Rumaldo Juárez also will address the students. Other speakers include special guests Dr. Norbert Adame, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix and Dr. Roger Campos, president of Campos Family Dentistry in San Antonio. Vanderhoof, Adame and Campos are alumni of Texas A&M-Kingsville and former students of NTRC director Dr. John C. Pérez.

Following the presentations, the students will have their newly acquired biomedical knowledge tested by participating in a retooled version of the TV game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” One student from each of the participating districts will compete for cash prizes of up to $100.

After the game, students will have the chance to win a $500 A&M-Kingsville scholarship in a random drawing. Students eligible for the scholarship are those that are completing the Recommended or Distinguished high school program, and are in the top 20 percent of their class or score a 21 or higher on the ACT or 970 or higher on the SAT. 
After a break for lunch, the students will have the option to take tours of A&M-Kingsville biology facilities and the NTRC serpentarium, the largest research collection of venomous snakes in the United States.

The NTRC is the only federally funded viper research center in the United States and is one of the leading research centers in the world for discovering toxins that can be used in biomedical research. The center develops collaborative research programs and provides global training and resources to identify medically important toxins found in snake venoms. The research complex has 7,000 square feet and state-of-the-art instrumentation for biomedical research. The NTRC serpentarium has 6,300 square feet of space with 450 venomous snakes from 24 different species consisting of 32 subspecies and will eventually include all venomous snakes in North America.

For more information on Viper Day, call 361-593-3082 or go online at http://ntrc.tamuk.edu/viperday.htm.

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