TYLER (KTRE) - Most high school students spend their summer vacations in the sun, sleeping and hanging out with friends. But, not one John Tyler student. Thanks to a scholarship, 17-year-old Kemian Fry of Tyler is spending his summer in a lab.
But it's what this teenager is studying that's all the buzz.
"Umm, the glassy wing sharpshooter."
I'm sorry, what was that?
"The glassy wing sharpshooter."
Yeah, try saying that ten times in a row.
"It sounds like a bird."
"Something to do with a gun, maybe?"
"I have no idea..."
"Maybe some kind of new pen?"
It's actually a little guy, a bug native to east Texas that really can do a lot of harm.
"It's just another bug to them, but if they knew everything that was behind it they would be thinking differently."
What 17 year old Kemian Fry is talking about is a bacteria the glassy wing sharpshooter transfers to grapevines, potentially killing the grapes.
It's the reason, believe it or not, that scientists all over the country are studying this strange sounding insect.
Kemian was chosen by the Bayer USA Foundation to participate in the seed program this summer. The program gives high school students from economically disadvantaged families the opportunity to experience a career in science.
"What he's coming away with is not just skills that are pertinent to the glassy wing sharpshooter, but any field of science that he goes in," said Dr. Blake Bextine, Kemian's mentor and a professor at UT Tyler.
But we have to ask - the bug has glassy wings, but what's with the name sharpshooter?
"Everyone has asked me that," Kemian laughs.
"This is an interesting insect in that it's able to aim its fecal matter when it's being attacked," Dr. Bextine says with a laugh.
"Ahh, I'd stay away from that one."
Not Kemian - this summer he's devoted his life to the glassy wing sharpshooter, and he says he loves it.
"I could be home asleep, could be doing a lot of things, but it's fun here. I'd rather be here," said Kemian.
The seed program focuses on female, African-American, American Indian and Hispanic students.