Congratulations to Donald De Alwis, one of the 2018 NOAA Hollings Scholars. The Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance (up to $9,500 per year) for two years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time paid ($700/week) internship at a NOAA facility during the summer. The internship between the first and second years of the award provides the scholars with hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities. Awards also include travel funds to attend a mandatory NOAA Scholarship Program orientation and the annual Science & Education Symposium, scientific conferences where students present their research, and a housing subsidy for scholars who do not reside at home during the summer internship.
Donald is an Environmental Science and Technology major with a concentration in environmental health. He is a member of the Honors College and of the Integrated Life Sciences program, and is a Banneker-Key Scholar. Donald is an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Stephanie Yarwood's lab, where he works with a Ph.D. student on experiments regarding iron-reducing bacteria in wetland soils. He also serves as an AGNR Student Ambassador, as an EMT with the Hyattsville Fire Department, and as an alternative spring break leader, among numerous activities.
Congratulations to Uzair Ahtesham, who earned the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Undergraduate Research Fellowships. HHMI Fellowships are awarded to undergraduate students who are achieving research excellence in the biomedical sciences. For more information about the HHMI programs at the University of Maryland, see http://hhmi.umd.edu. Uzair's research explores ethylene, a multifunctional plant hormone that is tightly controlled in the agricultural industry due to its wide ranging effects on crop plants. The recently published genome sequence of Marchantia reveals homologs of the proteins for ethylene signaling, but there are no homologs of the enzyme known in flowering plants to be responsible for producing ethylene from the precursor molecule 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC). Preliminary results indicate that ACC induces responses in Marchantia that are distinct from those caused by ethylene, suggesting that ACC itself could be a signaling molecule. Uzair investigates the roles of ethylene and ACC in Marchantia, to determine if the homologs of the ethylene signaling pathway are functionally conserved, and to shed light on the unknown signaling pathway through which ACC functions.
Winston Family Honors Writing Awards
Congratulations to Daniel Zheng for his Winston Family Award recognizing his short story, "Butler Library in New York: The New Tower of Babel." Daniel's Faculty Mentor is Dr. Ingrid Satelmajer in University Honors. The Winston Family Awards recognize the best in essays, research papers, and honors theses written by University of Maryland Honors Students. ILSer Justin Buck was also recognized for his writing with a Winston Family Award in 2017.
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) Alumni Network has announced its 2018 Undergraduate Summer Research, Travel and Educational Enrichment Award winners. Recipients receive awards of $500 or $2,000 to help defray costs related to conducting research or traveling to field courses, conferences or other summer activities that enhance or expand the student’s educational and professional development.
Lydia Mazze, a biological sciences major and a member of the Integrated Life Sciences (ILS) program in the Honors College, plans to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Mazze currently researches memory and learning in UMD’s Neural Systems Laboratory with Jonathan Fritz, an affiliate associate research scientist in the Department of Biology and a research scientist in the Institute for Systems Research. In Spain, Mazze will take a neural sound processing course and a Spanish course geared toward medical practitioners.
Congratulations Class of 2018! Mitchell Rock speaks at Spring Commencement
ILSer Mitchell Rock addressed the joyous crowd at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Spring Commencement Ceremony. Rock is graduating with dual bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences (physiology and neurobiology specialization) and government and politics. Rock is an aspiring surgeon who completed his ILS citation in the Honors College and a government and politics departmental honors thesis analyzing mental health policies for the LGBTQ+ community.
Rock has conducted research on malignant gliomas, diabetes and circadian rhythms, and cerebral palsy at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Tel Aviv University. He also volunteered in the child life department of Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital and the emergency department of Prince George’s Hospital Center. At UMD, he served as the vice president of recruitment for the Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity and as a teaching assistant for mammalian physiology and genetics courses.
While at UMD, Rock also explored his passion for advocacy and service-learning. He wrote opinion columns for The Diamondbackstudent newspaper advocating for vulnerable populations on and off campus. He also served as vice president of Public Health Without Borders and as an intern and experience leader for the Alternative Breaks program. Both of these organizations run service-learning experiences on a range of health and social justice issues. Rock also completed the Global Fellows program with a health policy internship in the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. A native of Baltimore County, Rock will attend medical school at Georgetown University this fall.
Asha Kodan is awarded the 2017 David M. Goff Scholarship
The Dr. David M. Goff Scholarship is awarded to Asha Kodan, an outstanding sophomore pre-medical student at the University of Maryland. The Goff Scholarship is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Goff, a well-regarded podiatrist serving the Washington, DC area. Asha is taking a challenging course load to complete the major of Biological Sciences and the minor of Religious Studies.
Over the past 5 years, Asha has been serving as a healthcare volunteer in multiple departments including the Geriatrics Unit, Ambulatory Surgery, and Emergency Room at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, MD. She has conducted undergraduate research in synthetic biology as a member of UMD’s iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machines) team; their project was to engineer bacteria so that it could deliver an anti-fungal compound to protect banana plants against a virulent fungal pathogen. She is also an undergraduate research assistant at UMD's Child Development Lab, where she works on the Temperament Over Time (TOTS) study to investigate the effects of individual differences in temperament across development. Besides her passion for healthcare and research, she writes a weekly opinion column about science and other timely topics for the student newspaper The Diamondback. Asha is ultimately planning to apply to medical school in order to obtain a M.D. degree in a clinical specialty, such as women's health or emergency medicine.
Congratulations to ILS junior Lily Sun, who has just been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship! The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics. Lily is one of four UMD students named as a Goldwater Scholar, and she contributes to a legacy of 18 awards and 2 honorable mentions for 20 nominated students in the past five years. Stanford University is the only other institution in the nation to match UMD's standards in this timeframe. Lily is among the 211 Barry Goldwater Scholars selected from 1,280 students nominated nationally this year, and she plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. after graduation.
Lily Sun, a junior pursuing double degrees in biological sciences and economics who is also a member of the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College and a Banneker/Key Scholar—is interested in developing novel cancer vaccines.
Sun’s pursued her first research experience in high school when she interned at the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine. As part of her internship, she screened a library of herbal compounds for potential use in chemotherapy. Next, she interned at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) researching the effectiveness of certain antibodies for immunotherapy—treatments that stimulate a patient's immune system—to treat head and neck cancers.
After joining another NIDCD lab in December 2016, Sun improved the effectiveness of a cancer immunotherapy in vitro by first treating cancer cells with chemotherapy drugs. Because chemotherapy usually kills immune cells along with cancer cells, making immunotherapy treatments less effective, this finding surprised Sun and her colleagues.
As a result of this work, Sun co-authored two papers published in the journal OncoImmunology and submitted two more papers for publication, including a first-author paper. Sun and her collaborators are currently investigating the mechanism behind this unexpected effect.
“Lily possesses a remarkable ability to grasp complex biologic processes and critically think through experimental designs to answer hypothesis-based questions that guide a scientific story,” said her mentor Clint Allen, head of the NIDCD’s Translational Tumor Immunology Program and an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Sun founded Terps for New Horizons, a club dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees. For more information about all of the winners, please click here.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has recently announced that the ILS student Maïgane Diop has been awarded the prestigious HHMI Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP) Fellowship for Summer 2018. HHMI-EXROP fellows receive full financial support for carrying out exciting research projects in the laboratories of HHMI Investigators who are outstanding scientists recognized for pushing the boundaries of our knowledge in the biomedical sciences. Maïgane has been selected to work with Dr. Tim Stearns who is the Frank Lee and Carol Hall Professor in the Department of Biology at Stanford University and in the Department of Genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Stearns's research focuses on cell biology, particularly the microtubule cytoskeleton, which is a dynamic network of filaments, associated motors, and organizing factors found in all eukaryotic cells.
Maïgane is pursuing her major in Biological Sciences specializing in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and her minor in Philosophy on the UMD campus. She is also actively involved in several meaningful co-curricular experiences at UMD. For example, she is especially interested in women’s health, which is reflected by her service as the Co-Founder and Co-President of Gove’s Quest, a UMD student organization focusing on providing volunteer service to women’s health organizations in the local community. She served as the experience leader for Alternative Spring 2018 Break program that provided an immersive service-learning project for UMD students to support an impoverished community in Haiti. She is ultimately planning to apply to medical school in order to pursue a M.D. in Women’s and Children’s Health and a Ph.D. in Reproductive Endocrinology.
Terps Helping Turtles Alternative Spring Break just returned from the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Topsail, NC! Check out the blog of the students' journey here.
Congratulations to Symbiont Health, a team comprised of ILSers Maria Chen and Nick Hricz with Honors EIP students Erich Meissner, Kyle Liu, and Daniel Rosenberry for winning the $15,000 grand prize at the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition! Chaired by businessman and philanthropist Robert G. Hisaoka, the competition awarded nearly $30,000 in seed funding to top student entrepreneurs in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch session, hosted by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Nearly 600 students, faculty, alumni and VIPs gathered to watch the student entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to the expert panel of judges in a ballroom at the university’s Stamp Student Union. The judges assessed each startup’s current level of success, plan for using the funds and their overall growth potential. The winners were:
- $15,000 Grand Prize: Symbiont Health (founders Erich Meissner ’18, Maria Chen ’19 and Kyle Liu ’20), maker of automated fall detection devices for seniors
- $7,500 Second Prize: BEEQBOX (founder Brianna Queen ’19), a vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics company featuring feminist branding
- $3,500 Third Prize: Dark Sonar Technologies (founder George Lee ’18), a cybersecurity company that prevents synthetic identity fraud on websites and mobile apps
- $1,000 Audience Choice (decided by text voting): Flee (founder Didac Hormiga ’19), a mobile app that helps students discover events and entertainment around campus
Congratulations to ILS senior Yousuf Khan, who was just awarded the prestigious Churchill Scholarship, which offers full funding to pursue a 1-year Master's degree at the University of Cambridge. Nationally, only 15 students in the sciences, engineering or mathematics receive Churchill Scholarships annually. Only two UMD students previously received the award since its inception in 1963, and this is the first time two were selected in the same year. The other UMD Churchill recipient this year is Chris Bambic from the University Honors program.
Yousuf will pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in pathology. He plans to study programmed ribosomal frameshifting in eukaryotic organisms. This mechanism allows organisms to pack a larger amount of genetic information into a relatively short sequence of RNA.
“Yousuf is truly exceptional and ranks in the top 1 percent among the students I have taught and mentored at the University of Maryland,” said Zhongchi Liu, a professor in the UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics who invited Khan to work in her plant genetics lab while he was still in high school.
After enrolling at UMD, Khan spent three years in the laboratory of Jonathan Dinman, chair of the UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, studying ribosomal frameshifting and how non-coding RNA controls gene expression. Khan cloned sequences suspected of being able to reprogram the genetic code and determined whether the sequences had the frameshifting function. As a result, he validated several new frameshifting sequences and co-authored five peer-reviewed journal articles and spoke about his findings at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in 2017. “By targeting and manipulating these very basic, but important, molecular mechanisms, this research could lead to the development of therapeutics to combat diseases and to mitigate the effects of aging,” Khan said.
To broaden his research experiences this year, Khan joined the laboratory of UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics Professor Norma Andrews to study Leishmania parasites, which are found in parts of the tropics, subtropics and southern Europe. They can cause serious disease and even death. Khan is examining the role of iron and reactive oxygen species in regulating differentiation of these parasites. He co-authored a peer-reviewed journal article detailing how to infect macrophages with these parasites and is preparing to submit a first-author publication.
President Loh's Fall Video Message: Discover New Knowledge
Check out ILSer Megha Guggari at the 1:48 minute mark of President Loh's video message! She and and her team are highlighted for their innovative, portable machine that analyzes brain waves in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. Awesome work Megha!
David Goff Scholarship Announcement
ILS is thrilled to announce that the Honors College will be offering the David Goff Scholarship to one second-year ILS student in the Fall 2017 semester. Students interested in pursuing the $1,000 scholarship must have a GPA of 3.75 or higher, be strongly committed to pursing a career in medicine (e.g., clinical medicine, medical research, public health, or another allied health field), and complete an application that includes an essay, curriculum vitae, and letter of recommendation.
For any questions and complete application, ILS students must contact Dr. Todd Cooke, Director of the ILS Program in the Honors College.
terp magazine profiles
TERP Magazine has profiled several members of the talented incoming class in the online issue available here. Two of these new Terps profiled by Lauren Brown are ILSers: Ethan Cheng and Pavan Ravindra.
Ethan Cheng believes every child should be able to smile. Born with a cleft lip, he founded the Cleft Support Club at his Montgomery County high school to raise awareness and money for children in developing countries who need the surgery to repair the birth defect, which can cause speech, dental and eating problems. A biological sciences major in the Honors College Integrated Life Sciences program, Cheng had his first surgery at age 3 months, and says it’s important that all children with cleft lips or palates have that opportunity: “It’s a simple surgery, but it can really change people’s lives.”
In the time it takes most of us to put on our pants, Pavan Ravindra can solve a Rubik’s Cube. One-handed. Ravindra, who plans to double major in biological sciences and computer science while participating in the Honors College ILS program, last year held the national title in this niche competition. He unscrambled the device five times at an average 11 seconds, with a top speed of 9.26 seconds. He insists it’s more efficient to use just his left hand, saying his movements are so fast that keeping the right hand out of the way can help shave up to a second off his “solve time.”
Ravinindra solved his first Rubik’s Cube in fourth grade, then put it aside for five years until he met a classmate who could do it in 15 seconds. That teen showed him a few tricks, and by the end of the school year, Ravindra could beat him. But the secret to his speed and dexterity is no trick it all: “It just means three hours a day of practice.”
ILS Service Award Recipients
Congratulations to our two recipients of the 2017 ILS Service Award, Paula Kleyman and Kelsey Anderson! The ILS Service Award recognizes the considerable contributions that ILSers make to their communities with their time, talent, and innovation during their tenure at Maryland. There were such tremendous nominations this year that for the first time ever we bestowed two awards.
Paula is a junior whose nominator described her as "someone who makes the ILS community and university at large a better place because of her honesty, kindness, and hard work." Generating excitement and interest in science for the next generation of scientists is one of Paula's passions. An active member of the American Chemical Society, and she volunteers to tutor students at various events. With the Innoworks camp on campus last summer, Paula worked with students who previously lacked exposure to science. She is a Teaching Assistant for the ILS genetics course because she loves the material and helping others master the coursework. For the last two summers, Paula has often been the lone BIOE major at every Orientation session, and competently educated students on what the major entails and the hazards/joys of Calc III! She is a generous Peer Mentor, and has worked tirelessly with the iGEM team.
Kelsey is also a junior who is a returning Section Leader for the introductory course HLSC100 for first-year ILS students, which includes being an encouraging role model as well as organized and prepared instructor. She is the founder of Students for the Advancement of Women in Science (SAWS), which generates interactive STEM education to inspire girls' confidence in science for local underserved middle school students. SAWS earned an Honorable Mention in the spring 2017 campus-wide Do Good Challenge of nearly 100 organizations, and won the Mini Do Good Challenge. Kelsey is a Peer Mentor for ILS and an Honors Ambassador for the Honors College. Kelsey not only contributes service herself, but notices and appreciates the work of others as well. She nominated four of her peers for recognition with this award, by far the most from any student.
Rising Junior Kelsey Anderson won first place in the Poster Symposium for the Uniformed Services University Health Services (USUHS). Her winning poster, The Immunoproteasome Alters the Innate Response is Microglia, is seen here. Congratulations Kelsey!
Welcome to our new Associate Director of ILS, Dr. Sabrina Kramer! Dr. Kramer is joining us from the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center at the University of Maryland, where she has overseen several successful faculty development programs, including those focusing on course redesign and curriculum development. She has over 10 years of teaching experience at the University and brings with her a diverse research background ranging from pathogen-host interactions and viruses as templates for nanowires to the support of faculty development and teacher training in higher education.
Sabrina received her B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary in 2001 and her Ph.D in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics from UMD in 2008. She was a post-doctoral teaching and research fellow at the Center for Biosystems Research in the UMD Biotechnology Institute from 2008-2010. Since then, she has served as an Assistant Director of the UMD Teaching and Learning Transformation Center specializing in faculty and student development in all disciplines with particular emphasis on STEM disciplines. Sabrina brings fantastic enthusiasm, knowledge, and experience to the ILS Associate Director position, and we are thrilled to welcome her to our team and excited for the talent she is bringing!
THANK YOU so much Dr. Boots Quimby for all her dedicated service to the ILS community over the past seven years. Many of the signature teaching and research programs of ILS are directly due to her incredible creativity, passion, and talents, including the Alternative Break trip Terps Helping Turtles in Topsail Island, NC and the winter student abroad course in the United Kingdom exploring the British Masters of Science. We owe her a great debt of gratitude for all her efforts on behalf of the ILS community. She will be using her talents in her new position as the Associate Director of Program Development and Evaluation in the Office of Undergraduate Research at UNC Chapel Hill. We wish her the very best in her future endeavors at UNC. Bon voyage, Boots!
The Dragon Resupply mission has launched! Aaron Solomon, Gary Saroosh, and Yaniv Kazansky, whose project focusing on astronauts' health blasted off to the International Space Station! These self described "space geeks" and pre-med students aim to expand our understanding of how bacteria behave in microgravity—and ultimately how to safeguard space travelers—with their biology experiment. Check out the project by these three ILSers here!
Do Good Challenge Winners and Recognition
The University of Maryland is the nation's first Do Good Campus, and the 2017 Do Good Challenge Finals were held on April 26th. The Do Good Challenge is a year-long effort that engages over a thousand students across campus and partners with numerous colleges, schools, and programs. Capped by an eight-week competition created by UMD students to encourage their peers to Do Good, the challenge awards over $20,000 of total prize money and gives students a chance to get their organization’s name in front of a panel of high-profile judges and hundreds of supporters and professionals at the Finals. It is an opportunity students can’t miss.
Recognition included several successful ILS teams! Congratulations to Symbiont Health, a team comprised of ILSers Maria Chen and Nick Hricz with Honors EIP students Erich Meissner, Kyle Liu, and Daniel Rosenberry (not pictured). Their fall detection device, a watch-sized prototype that can communicate falls to responders to assist patients and prevent further injury and trauma was awarded 2nd Prize and $2,500 out of more than 90 competing teams, and also earned the Audience Choice Award of $1,500. They also won 1st Prize at the Maryland Day Fishbowl Pitching Contest for another $3,000 and and additional $5,000 for the acceptance of their idea to Terp Start Up for summer 2017. They have formed a partnership with Medstar Institute of Innovation, a seven-hospital system, to work with their patients for product testing. Amazing work!
Congratulations to the Students for the Advancement of Women in Science (SAWS), recognized for Honorable Mention. This organization was founded by ILSer Kelsey Anderson, advised by ILS Assistant Director Zabrina Anzyl, and comprised of primarily ILS students including Natalia Ochman, Justin Buck, Bebe Badiei, Elizabeth Arentz, Allison Karwoski, and Adam Wright. SAWS members share a common goal of eliminating gendered stigmas from the STEM education path and building an inclusive learning environment in which differences are seen as strengths, and not obstacles to learning. Through direct tutoring intervention at the middle school level, SAWS strives to instill confidence into the hearts and lives of students, molding them into avid lifetime learners.
Congratulations to the Vintage Voices team! Vintage Voices, which includes ILSers Paula Kleyman, Ben Akman, and Rachel Jacob (not pictured) aims to improve the mental health and the quality of life for the elderly living in long-term care facilities through the power of music. This team won First Place in the Projects Category! ILSers contributed a tremendous amount of talent and passion to these projects, and it was wonderful to see them recognized. ILS Director Dr. Todd Cook and Honors College Executive Director Dr. Sue Dwyer attended the finals and were incredibly impressed by the efforts of all the teams and how much good Terps are doing for their campus and communities.
The University Medal is the highest award that the University of Maryland offers to its most noteworthy graduating senior at Campus Commencement. The medal is awarded for overall academic excellence, plus outstanding research and scholarly accomplishments, dedicated service to on-campus and off-campus organizations, significant leadership, and personal values. ILS is proud to announce that seniors Aaron Solomon and Gabrielle Welsh are two of the nominees for the 2017 University Medal, congratulations to both of them!
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Undergraduate Research Fellowships
ILS is proud to announce that 5 ILS students have won very prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Undergraduate Research Fellowships. HHMI Fellowships are awarded to undergraduate students who are achieving research excellence in the biomedical sciences. For more information about the HHMI programs at the University of Maryland, see http://hhmi.umd.edu.
Emma De Ravin is an ILS junior who is majoring in Biological Sciences (specializing in Physiology and Neurobiology). Her research topic is: "Immune and inflammatory role of B lymphocytes in type 2 diabetes". Her mentor is Dr. Wenxia Song in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics.
Yousuf Khan is an ILS junior who is majoring in Biological Sciences (specializing in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics). His research topic is: "Changes in mRNA secondary structure potentiates the transforming activity of the Jak2-V617F mutation". His mentor is Dr. Jonathan Dinman in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics.
Robert Liu is an ILS junior who is majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Computer Science. His research topic is: "Computational modeling of the intrinsic sorting of actin crosslinking proteins." His mentor is Dr. Garegin Papoian in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Kristen Ramsey is an ILS sophomore who is majoring in Biological Sciences (specializing in General Biology). Her research topic is: "Towards understanding the role of the large-conductance mechanosensitive channel MscL in osmoregulation of Vibrio cholerae". Her mentor is Dr. Sergei Sukharev in the Department of Biology.
Anna Seminara is an ILS sophomore who is majoring in Biological Sciences (specializing in Microbiology). Her research topic is: "Identification of receptors mediating adenosine 3', 5'-bisphosphate signaling." Her mentor is Dr. Vincent Lee in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics.
Congratulations Emily DeBoy! The ILS Senior has been awarded the Undergraduate Researcher of the Year Award from the Office of Undergraduate Studies. Emily is broadly interested in the fundamental biology of nuclear architecture and genomic organization and how major defects in these processes can lead to cancer and aging. She has done exceptional research in the lab of Dr. Tom Misteli, who is an NIH Distinguished Investigator and the Director of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute. Her thesis is entitled: “Identification and characterization of novel RNA isoforms of lamin A/C”. Emily will be receiving dual degrees with high honors in Biological Sciences and in Mathematics at the Spring 2017 Commencement. Next year, Emily will matriculate at the MD-PhD program at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Congratulations David Yim! David was recognized as the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences with the Dean's Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for the Biological Sciences Program.
Congratulations to ILS senior Mia Levenson, who has recently won the prestigious Kennedy Center American Collegiate Theatre Festival's Undergraduate Scholar Award. Mia will graduate this spring having earned a B.S. degree in biological sciences with a specialization in physiology and neurobiology and a B.A. degree in theatre with a concentration in theatre history and theory, respectively. As a dramaturg and theatre scholar, Mia's research interests include the representation of science in drama and the presentation of women's bodies on stage. Her award-winning essay examined 17th-century anatomy theaters and their effects on the ways audiences viewed Jacobean drama.
Congratulations to Yousuf Khan, who was recently awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) undergraduate fellowship, and also published a third paper in Molecular Cell with a fourth paper in review at Nature Leukemia. Additionally, Yousuf was invited to speak at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting early this month in front a significant international audience. Great work Yousuf!
Congratulations to Aaron Solomon, Gary Saroosh, and Yaniv Kazansky, whose project focusing on astronauts' health will be blasted off to the International Space Station this month! These self described "space geeks" and pre-med students aim to expand our understanding of how bacteria behave in microgravity—and ultimately how to safeguard space travelers—with their biology experiment. For more, check out the full story here.
Five years ago, ILS Associate Director Boots Quimby initiated a partnership between the University of Maryland ILS students and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, NC. For Spring 2017, nine students were lead by Experience Leaders Nicole Moy and Katie Aceto, and Staff Advisor ILS Assistant Director Zabrina Anzyl for an eight-day Alternative Spring Break adventure. In multiple pre-trip meetings, participants studied sea turtle species, engaged in team builders, and prepared to assist the wonderful regular hospital volunteers. The entire group scooped and cleaned tanks, prepared fish and squid for breakfast, fed turtles by hand, watched a tagging for three sea turtles ready for release, and observed a necropsy at the beautiful University of North Carolina, Wilmington campus. They also went to the Cape Fear Raptor Center and the Fort Fisher Aquarium to gain a comprehensive view of the local ecosystems and emphasize the connections in environmental conservation and sustainability. You can learn about the group's experience by watching their digital story below.
Congratulations to Steve Chen, who received the NCI Center for Global Health Cancer Research Training Award Fellowship! Steve will be working with NCI staff to develop and implement projects that support strengthening of cancer research and cancer control globally. You can learn more about this opportunity here.
Congratulations to senior Steve Chen, who participated in the TEDxUMD Think Big Conference at the Hoff Theater on February 18th. Steve is a volunteer with the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, an international nonprofit aimed at reducing global suffering and empowering individuals and communities. His speech, It’s Time to Start Eating Ethically, was about the benefits of vegetarianism and why he continues with this diet.
ILS piloted our first-ever study abroad experience for 10 days with 15 students representing all cohorts in January 2017. Led by Associate Director Dr. Boots Quimby and Assistant Director Zabrina Anzyl, The British Masters of Science examined 500 years of discovery by British scientists, from Sir Isaac Newton to Dr. Stephen Hawking. Britain’s great scientists and inventors have been at the forefront of some of history’s greatest advances and have shaped science as we know it today. The course explored where these scientific masters lived, studied, and worked in London, Cambridge, and Oxford. Students experienced the historic foundations of science and were able to connect the scientific discoveries of history to contemporary classrooms. Highlights included Jenner House, the Hunterian Museum, Stonehenge, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Bletchley Park. The course is planned to be repeated in 2019!
Congratulations to senior Aaron Solomon, who has been named a 2017 Marshall Scholar! The Marshall Scholarship, which allows American students to pursue graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom, is considered one of the most prestigious academic awards available to college graduates. Solomon—who is majoring in biological sciences, with a specialization in cell biology and genetics, and minoring in computer science—plans to use the scholarship toward a Master of Science degree in genomic medicine at Imperial College London followed by a Master of Philosophy degree in bioscience enterprise at the University of Cambridge. His long-term plans include earning his Ph.D. and pursuing a career in computational genomics.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Solomon. “The Marshall Scholarship will enable me to study cutting-edge biomedical science on a global scale and collaborate internationally to enhance human health. Throughout my years in the United Kingdom, I hope to prepare myself to tackle future challenges at the nexus of science and society.” UMD’s fifth Marshall Scholar, Solomon has extensive community service and research experience, including projects focused on drastically reducing greenhouse gas pollutants in agricultural fertilizers using nanoscience techniques, genetically engineering fungi to attack mosquitos carrying malaria and developing bioinformatic tools to better understand breast cancer patient data.
You can read more about Aaron's Marshall plans here.
Students from the UMD iGEM team (International Genetically Engineered Machine competition) attended the International Jamboree in Boston with more than 250 other teams from around the world. This annual competition features presentations in the field of synthetic biology, a rapidly growing field that aims to apply engineering principles to biological systems in order to address real-world problems.
UMaryland iGEM was founded three years ago, as a collaboration between ILS and the Bioengineering department. Under the direction of three faculty mentors, the team not only researches a synthetic biology project, but raises money to fund experiments and the trip to Boston, collaborates with iGEM teams from other universities, and participates in various human outreach activities to take the project into the real world and to inform the public about genetic engineering.
The UMD iGEM team included nine ILSers, and was awarded a silver medal and nominated for the Best Hardware Project for two presentations: the "Biosequestration of Methane" to combat global climate change, and a DIY -80 degree freezer costing around $300. The 2017 team is currently hard at work on planning for the project it will present at this year's competition. To learn more about the methane project, visit 2016.igem.org/Team:UMaryland, and for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to ILS faculty member, Dr. Jonathan Simon, whose recent research was widely circulated by British journalists in the United Kingdom. Media outlets that published pieces on his work included The Times and BBC Radio, which has a global audience of several million listeners. Dr. Simon's research studies the difficulties a listener encounters when surrounded by a cacophony of competing voices.
ILS is thrilled to recognize the placement of recent graduate Avan Antia with the Clinton Fellowship America India Foundation (AIF). She will be working with an NGO in India for 10 months, beginning in September. The Clinton Fellowship for Service in India pairs young professionals with leading NGOs and social enterprises to accelerate impact and create effective projects that are replicable, scalable, and sustainable. Together, Fellows and development sector leaders form dynamic partnerships to exchange knowledge and skills while sharing their passion to present new ways of looking at the world - ultimately transforming both the individual and the organization. Avan will be working at the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Center for Herpatology. Congrats Avan!
Congratulations to Iowis Zhu for being selected as the 2016 University of Maryland University Medal recipient! This is the highest award that the University of Maryland offers to its most noteworthy graduating senior at Campus Commencement. The medal recognizes overall academic excellence, plus outstanding research and scholarly accomplishments, dedicated service to on-campus and off-campus organizations, significant leadership, and personal values. Iowis was chosen for his research excellence, which includes his leadership of a UMD student team that was awarded a gold medal at International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Grand Jamboree for Synthetic Biology. After graduation, Iowis will be entering the Stanford School of Medicine to pursue his M.D. degree. Congratulations Iowis!
Congrats to Senior Shane Falcinelli for being awarded the Dorfman Prize for Undergraduate Research for 2016! Shane was recognized for his thesis research working with Dr. Volker Briken for the past four years. His research focused on studying drug delivery by acyclic cucurbit[n]uril-type molecular containers. Shane's work was also recognized with the Winston Family Honors Best Student Paper Award, please see below. Tremendous job Shane!
We are excited to recognize two ILSers, senior Shane Falcinelli and first-year Justin Buck, for their recent Winston Family Honors Best Student Paper Awards. Shane was one of three recipients for Best Honors Thesis for his work titled, Toxicology and Drug Delivery Applications of Acyclic Curcurbit[n]uril-Type Molecular Genetics under the guidance of faculty mentor Dr. Volker Briken. Justin was one of two recipients for Best Honors Essay Thinking Outside the Cell: Rehabilitating American's Youth. Justin's essay was nominated by his faculty mentor Dr. Peter E. Leone in the course HONOR248H From Willowbrook to Attica: Disability in the Context of Disability Education. You can read more about Shane, Justin, and the others recognized by the Winston Family here. Congratulations to our winners!
Congratulations to ILS Director Dr. Todd Cooke for being recognized with the Donna B. Hamilton Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. This is a student-nominated award that asks for faculty members who have made a difference in how their students view the world, influenced their career direction, improved their understanding of challenging material, or been a mentor or role model. The Office of Undergraduate Studies deliberates on all of the nominees and recognizes one faculty member in Undergraduate Studies.
This means that ILS staff members Dr. Cooke, Dr. Quimby, and Graduate Assistant Hannah Jardine are all being recognized for their exceptional work this year. Congratulations to Dr. Cooke and the rest of the ILS team!
Congratulations to ILS Graduate Assistant Hannah Jardine, who has just been given the Graduate Student Staff Recognition Award from the Department of Undergraduate Studies. As an embedded researcher, Hannah has conducted a longitudinal study of all aspects of the ILS program from Welcome Weekend to Citation Ceremony. In the last two years, she created permeability among multiple facets of the program including courses, faculty and staff, living environment, and student expectations. Additionally, Hannah contributed significantly in extenuating circumstances when she increased her time commitment and responsibilities to bridge the gap between the outgoing and incoming Assistant Directors. She coordinated numerous aspects of HLSC100 including curriculum review, Section Leader preparation, and service partner logistics. Hannah presented at three professional conferences this spring, proactively pursuing opportunities to contribute to her field and maximize her research. After graduating in May with her Master's in Curriculum and Instruction, Hannah will begin her doctoral program at the University of Maryland in Teaching Learning Policy and Leadership with a concentration in Math and Science Education. Thank you Hannah!
Dr. B. Booth "Boots" Quimby, the ILS Associate Director, has just received the Creative Educator Award for 2016 from the Board of Visitors of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Dr. Quimby was recognized in part for her outstanding and innovative teaching contributions, including a scholarship-in-practice class and a flipped cell biology class.
She was also recognized for her creation of an Alternative Spring Break experience called Terps Helping Turtles at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Hospital on Topsail Island, North Carolina. Terps Helping Turtles just completed its fourth year, and plans to partner with the hospital for many years to come. Additionally, Dr. Quimby supervised award-winning undergraduate student teams in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Grand Jamboree in Synthetic Biology. Among her other awards, Dr. Quimby was named Outstanding Honors Faculty in Fall 2015 by the University of Maryland Honors College. Congratulations Dr. Quimby!
The University Medal is the highest award that the University of Maryland offers to its most noteworthy graduating senior at Campus Commencement. The medal is awarded for overall academic excellence, plus outstanding research and scholarly accomplishments, dedicated service to on-campus and off-campus organizations, significant leadership, and personal values.
ILS is proud to announce that two ILS seniors, Iowis Zhu and Adip Bhargav, are among the five graduating seniors named this year as finalists for this award. Among his notable accomplishments, Iowis is being recognized for his research excellence, which includes his leadership of a UMD student team that was awarded a gold medal at International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Grand Jamboree for Synthetic Biology. After graduation, Iowis will be entering the Stanford School of Medicine to pursue his M.D. degree. Among his notable accomplishments, Adip is being recognized for his dedicated community service, which includes his leadership of the Advocates for Improving Medicine (AIM) and provides support services to local healthcare agencies. After graduation, Adip will be entering Mayo Clinic Medical School to pursue his M.D. degree. Congratulations to both these outstanding graduates!
We are so excited to congratulate sophomore Jessica MacGregor as one of this year's Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship recipients! Awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education, the Hollings Scholarship Program provides a financial award of up to $9,500 annually for two years beginning in September 2016. The Hollings Award also includes a full-time, 10-week, paid summer research internship at a NOAA facility the summer following junior year. This internship provides the Scholars with practical, hands-on training in NOAA-related research, science, technology, education activities, and management.
Jessica is an Environmental Science and Policy major, concentrating in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology. She also minors in Spanish Language and Culture. She completed a summer internship working as a field technician for the US Geological Survey, and currently works in Dr. Bill Fagan's Spatial Ecology Lab on campus. Jessica is one of four University of Maryland students to be awarded this prestigious honor, which ties Maryland for third in the nation with the most recipients. Congratulations Jessica!
Congratulations to sophomore Yousuf Khan for being recognized as a 2016 Goldwater Scholar! For the second consecutive year, four University of Maryland students have been awarded scholarships by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics. UMD is one of only five institutions with their four nominees all named scholars. The other schools are Cornell University, Stanford University, the University of North Texas and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is the first repeat of all four nominees selected as scholars in Maryland's history.
Khan was among the 252 Barry Goldwater Scholars selected from 1,150 students nominated nationally this year. A biological sciences major specializing in cell biology and genetics, who is also a Banneker/Key Scholar, is interested in understanding how non-coding RNAs control gene expression. Since May 2014, he has been conducting research in the laboratory of Jonathan Dinman, chair of the UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. In the lab, Khan’s first task involved cloning sequences suspected of being able to reprogram the genetic code. You can read the full story and learn about UMD's other Goldwater recipients here.
Congratulations to Amira Collison, a senior majoring in neurobiology and physiology and minoring in Spanish, who has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain for the 2016-17 academic year! In addition to being a member of the ILS Honors College program, Ms. Collison has served as the chief student coordinator for a high school tutoring program, Foundations in Science and Health, as well as site leader for SHARE, a student-run organization that collects and donates medical supplies to developing countries. Since 2012, Ms. Collison has been a full Banneker Key Scholar and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi. While teaching English in Spain, Ms. Collison plans to volunteer at a local health clinic, building on her volunteer work at Silver Spring Community Clinic. After completing her Fulbright year in Spain, Ms. Collison plans to attend medical school. As a physician, she hopes to improve the quality and access of health care for minorities in underserved areas.
ILS Associate Director, Dr. Boots Quimby, receives the Honors College outstanding faculty awards from Honors College Director, Dr. Bill Dorland, at the honors college citation ceremony.
Congratulations to ILS senior, Avan Antia, who won the award for Best Undergraduate Poster at the Rustbelt RNA Conference! Avan's findings uncover new targets for therapies directed at controlling stress at the cellular level. Specifically, she verified the presence of signals, located in the messenger RNAs of genes that are turned on in response to cellular stress, which recode the cellular protein synthetic machinery to downregulate the expression of these genes.
Congratulations to ILS faculty fellow, Dr. Raymond St. Leger, on his receiving the Kirwin Faculty Research and Scholarship Award. This annual prize recognizes a faculty member for a highly significant work of research, scholarship, or artistic creativity. The prize can be awarded for a publication, an invention, a performance, or any other activity within the faculty member's academic discipline.
Congratulations to ILS Student Avan Antia, who received a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State. She is spending the summer in India learning Hindi. Avan will be a senior this fall majoring in biological sciences and minoring in Spanish. Read the Q&A with Avan on the CMNS website.
ILS graduates its first class. On May 22, 2015, after four years in the ILS program, the inaugural cohort of ILS students graduated from the University of Maryland. Congratulations to all of the young men and women who were willing to take a risk and participate in, as well as, shape the Integrated Life Sciences Honors College program. Your hearts and souls have left an indelible imprint on the program that will serve the ILS program for many many years to come and we thank you!
ILS juniors Shane Falcinelli and Iowis Zhu are 2 out of 4 UMD students selected as Barry Goldwater Scholars for the upcoming year. Shane is a biology major interested in pathogen research and Iowis is a double major in biochemistry and biological sciences and is interested in developing new drug delivery methods that improve accuracy and precision. The Goldwater Scholarship program was created in 1986 to identify students of outstanding ability and promise in science, engineering and mathematics, and to encourage their pursuit of advanced study and research careers. Goldwater scholars receive one- or two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year. These scholarships are a stepping-stone to future support for their research careers. You can read the full story here
ILS senior Evguenia “Eva” Morgun has been awarded a 2015-16 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Study Scholarship to conduct research in Germany. Eva will work with Stefan Kochanek at the University of Ulm’s Department of Gene Therapy to develop a gene therapy approach for the treatment of Nienmann-Pick disease type C, a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Kochanek's laboratory specializes in gene therapy vector research. Read more here.
ILS students Shannon Kirby (General Biology) and Aaron Solomon (Cellular Biology & Genetics, minor in Computing Science) were among 4 UMD students selected to receive the Cory Undergraduate Scholarship award for the Spring 2015 semester. The scholarship was established by friends and family of Ernest N. Cory, who served as head of the Department of Entomology and Zoology from 1914-1956. The Cory Scholarship fund provides up to $1,000 towards tuition remission for two undergraduate students each semester who have creatively contributed to department research and/or extension efforts. The scholarship was established by friends and family of Ernest N. Cory, who served as head of the Department of Entomology and Zoology from 1914-1956.
ILS Senior Fang Cao was named a Rhodes Scholar. Fang plans to use the scholarship to pursue a master's degree in medical anthropology at the University of Oxford in England. His long-term plans include a career in medicine and public health policy. Fang is the first Rhodes Scholar from the University of Maryland in nearly 40 years, congratulations Fang! Read more about the scholarship and Fang's plans here.
The University of Maryland earned a gold medal in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) held in Boston from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, 2014. The competition engages student-led teams from universities across the globe to present novel synthetic biology projects that address real-world problems. Five of the team members are students in ILS. Read the article here .
ILS Freshmen Aaron Solomon (BSCI) received an award from the Tribeca Film Festival for creating an engaging video portrait of a young medical researcher who works in a lab funded by the National Institutes of Health for LabTV. Read more and see his award winning short film here.
Third year ILS student Fang Cao (BSCI) has been awarded a Truman Scholarship, the nation's most selective and prestigious award for underclassmen who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and a commitment to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service. Read the full story here
Third year ILS student Julie Etheridge (BIOE) presented at the 9th Annual ACC Meeting of the Minds 2014 Conference. At this conference outstanding undergraduate researchers and faculty mentors from each Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) institution gather to present their original research. Julie presnted about research she has been conducting in Dr. John Fisher's Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials laboratory at UMD.
Three ILS students, David Jiang, Eva Morgun, Fang Cao, were recently awarded Undergraduate Research Fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Undergraduate Science Education Program. These fellowships support independent research projects conducted by the students as they work under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The fellowship provide students with stipends throughout the summer and school semester to work on their research along with funding for research supplies.
Congratulations to ILS Faculty Fellow Dr. Ray St. Leger, who was awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor for his outstanding scholarship on the genetics of fungi and exemplary achievements as a teacher and mentor. This official title is the highest academic honor that the university confers upon a faculty member and is reserved for a small number of exceptionally distinguished scholars.
ILS Sophomore Fang Cao (BSCI) has been awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics. Fang is one of three UMD students among the 271 scholars selected from 1,107 students nominated this year. After graduation Fang plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.
ILS Sophomore Katie Geck (BSCI) has been accepted to a summer fellowship with the Work Immersion Study Program in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. As part of this immersion program Katie will spend the month of June in an intensive German language program and then spend July and August interning in a biology lab. For the entirety of the internship she is expected to communicate exclusively in German. Katie felt that this was an ideal program for her as she is will have the opportunity to improve her German language skills but also gain valuable research experience.
ILS Faculty Fellow, Raymond St. Leger (Entomology), and nine other faculty members from the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) are among the 702 new Fellows named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general federation of scientists and the publisher of the journal Science. Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be honored on Saturday, 16 February, at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass.
Dr. St. Leger was recognized for his distinguished contributions to the fields of mycology, pathology and microbial control, particularly for studies unraveling the mechanisms by which fungi and insects interact.
ILS student Julie Etheridge (BIOE) will be presenting at the Biomedical Engineering Society's Annual Meeting in Atlanta Georgia, October 24-27. Her abstract is entitled "Evaluating the Cytotoxicity of Poly(propylene fumarate) per ISO Standard 10993-5."
The study aimed to examine whether Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF), a synthetic, linear polymer whose degradation products include fumaric acidand propylene glycol would be suitable for use in future in vivo tissue engineering applications per ISO Standard 10993-5. The cytotoxic effects of PPF were examined to see if the degradation products of PPF would hinder the natural assimilation that takes place between a polymer and tissue within the body.
ILS Faculty Fellow Jonathan Simon has been selected to attend the 10th Annual National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) conference, "The Informed Brain in a Digital World" this November.
Participants are selected through a competitive application process. At the conference they present posters on their latest research and participate in interdisciplinary research teams that develop a possible scientific plan to solve an outstanding challenge. The goals of the research teams are to spur new thinking, have people from different disciplines interact, and forge new scientific contacts across disciplines.
These NAKFI conferences are a 15-year effort of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicineto catalyze interdisciplinary inquiry and enhance communication among researchers, funding organizations, universities, and the general public. The objective is to support the climate for conducting interdisciplinary research, and to break down related institutional and systemic barriers.
ILS Director, Dr. Todd J. Cooke (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) was awarded the Creative Educator Award by the College of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences Board of Visitors. The Award is designed to encourage and recognize significant creative and innovative contributions to the educational experience of undergraduate students. The Board particularly looks for examples of cross-disciplinary education, collaboration with corporations and institutions outside the university, innovative approaches to education, enrichment of students' educational experience outside the classroom, and the embedding of entrepreneurship as an integral part of students' academic experience.