|At commencement, Wilson was recognized as one of two
campus-wide recipients of the prestigious Brown Found-
ation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award by
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. The award is the
highest accolade that can be bestowed upon a graduating
senior. It honors top students who exemplify the leadership
and related traits of the late General Earl Rudder, a World
War II hero who served as president of Texas A&M from
1959 until his death in 1970.
Days after receiving two Texas A&M University degrees, a bachelor’s in applied mathematics and a master’s in mathematics, Tanner Wilson '12 vividly recalls the early ease with which he grasped calculations and formulas.
"I've always been good at math," Wilson says. "I knew I liked it, but as I got closer to college, I realized I wanted to be a doctor. My career goal is to be a trauma surgeon at a major academic medical center."
No one could have predicted that Wilson’s love of math might also one day save a life.
Better Blood Transfusions
An applied mathematics major with an option in biological sciences, Wilson spent the better part of his academic career toiling over research intended to improve emergency care for trauma patients. Now armed with his newly minted diplomas, a dry-erase board and his natural mathematical savvy, Wilson is well on his way to devising mathematical strategies that someday could improve the technology of blood transfusions.
Wilson's somewhat unlikely career path owes its foundations to his early exposure to research as a member of the Undergraduate Program in Biological and Mathematical Sciences (UBM), where he says he found his calling. A National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between Texas A&M's Departments of Biology, Mathematics and Statistics, UBM trains students to resolve major life-sciences-related issues using quantitative approaches that span a variety of interdisciplinary areas within the three fields.
|Tanner Wilson '12 and fiance Nell Kroeger '12
both completed the mathematics department's
FastTrack Degree Program, a five-year prog-
ram in which math majors can simultaneously
earn their bachelor's and master's degrees,
in four years.
In summer 2010, Wilson used his 2009 internship experience at Houston's Ben Taub General Hospital's trauma unit as inspiration for his research. During the internship, he was surprised at how little scientific justification went into transfusion protocol for patients experiencing massive blood loss. In each patient's case, a longstanding field-wide debate arises: Exactly what is the correct ratio of red blood cells, plasma and platelets required to maintain the balance of whole blood?
Wilson turned to mathematics to solve the debate, which he hypothesized could be useful in creating a more personalized method of blood treatment. He devised a detailed mathematical model that mapped out the transfusion process using simulations, and during the next two years, he expanded his models to include physiological variables, including blood-clot formation and flow rates.
"Tanner is the quintessential self-starter," said Dr. Jay Walton, Wilson’s UBM adviser and professor of mathematics and aerospace engineering. "Without a doubt, Tanner's work on this mathematical modeling project is publishable science done primarily while he was an undergraduate student with minimal guidance. Such scientific maturity is not often seen in undergraduate students."
|The Aggie philanthropy of Peggy and
Charles Brittan '65 is extensive. They
have funded a teaching award, a
science scholarship, a Sul Ross Scholar-
ship, two President’s Endowed Scholar-
ships, two Foundation Excellence Awards
and the Center for Executive Development
at the Mays Business School. They also
have made provisions for a Texas A&M
scholarship in their estate.
The Medicine and Math Partnership
Before entering the Dallas-based University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in August, Wilson is using the summer to perfect a mathematical theory to calculate oxygenation levels of blood in places like the heart that are normally considered blind spots by surgeons.
“Medicine can only go so far without using high-level mathematics," he says. "And that's the point of this project, to show that just by using mathematical theory, we can find some things you would not otherwise be able to find."
Beyond his extensive research experience and academic achievements, Wilson was previously recognized with 20 awards and scholarships. He is quick to humbly stress that his numerous accomplishments and successes could not have happened without significant help. From his mentor, Jay Walton, to all of his scholarship donors, Wilson adamantly gives credit where he says it most certainly is due.
"I've been supported through the President's Endowed Scholarship program and College of Science endowed scholarships. Charles H. Weinbaum Jr. '47 and the Brittans [Peggy L. and Charles L.] are some of my donors. Without that kind of support, it goes without saying I never would've been able to do the things I did."
By Chris Jarvis '07
You can support students in the College of Science with the gift of an endowed scholarship to the Texas A&M Foundation.