Summer Kauffman-Miller research awards and CT Assist experiential grant recipients announced

Eight EMU students heading to careers in science and medicine have earned funding for summer research and cross-cultural learning, provided by the Kauffman-Miller grants and the CT Assist Summer Experiential Learning Program.

Kauffman-Miller Research Awards

The awards are named for emeritus professors Glenn Kauffman (chemistry) and Roman Miller (biology), each of whom were “champions of undergraduate involvement in authentic scientific research at EMU,” said Stephen Cessna, a biochemistry professor who holds the Daniel B. Suter Endowed Chair.

The awardees are:

  • Sylvia Mast, in support of her project: “Examining the Extent that UNC-53 Inhibits Apoptotic Cell Corpse Engulfment through Abselon Tyrosine Kinase (ABL-1) Signaling,” with Professor Kris Schmidt.
  • Maria Yoder and Jonah Short Miller, in support of their project “RING Finger Protein (RNF11) modulates dopamine release, kinetics and behavioral changes in Drosophila,” exploring the role of RNF11 in Parkinson’s etiology, with Professor Jeffrey Copeland.
  • Maya Dula and Clara Weybright, in support of their project “Investigating the Effectiveness of Small-scale Agroforestry Plots as a Conservation Strategy in the Cloud Forest of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.” The research partners will spend four weeks in Guatemala conducting a biodiversity evaluation and a sociological study involving Q’echi communities involved in programming hosted by the Community Cloud Forest Conservation Center. Professor Jim Yoder is the advising faculty member.

“Encouraging student research is an important goal of the Daniel B. Suter Endowment Fund,” Cessna said. “These awards provide opportunities for biology and chemistry students to build the key skills of scientific inquiry from writing the proposal to presenting and potentially publishing their findings.”

Over their 30-plus year tenures, Kauffman and Miller each worked with more than 40 undergraduates on research projects ranging in topics from organic blueberry production to the synthesis of new cyclic organic compounds.

CT Assist Health Experiential Learning Program Award Recipients

The CT Assist Health Experiential Learning Program awards funds to pre-professional health science students at EMU to support clinical experiences that help prepare students for professional health programs. CT Assist is a Harrisonburg-based healthcare staffing business owned by two alumni.

Three students are gaining experience in language studies and cultural competence in the health careers context:

  • Anastasia Dronov and Kayley Scottlind will visit Peru this summer to explore healthcare practices with professors Schmidt and Adriana Rojas. Their time includes observations at National Hospital Docente in Lima; two weeks in a village observing and working with a local nurse; and two weeks assisting with laboratory and clinical work at Centro Medico Belen, in Ayacucho. Dronov, a junior biology and Spanish double-major who also speaks fluent Russian, hopes to become a physician. Scottlind, a practicing EMT and double-major in biology and Spanish, hopes to become a doctor and serve Spanish-speaking communities.
  • Jonathan Nielsen’s award will pay for participation in James Madison University’s “Bridging the Gap” Health Care Interpreter Training program. The training will enable him to work with the Blue Ridge AHEC Community Health Interpretation Service. A double major in Spanish and pre-Pprofessional health sciences, he hopes to become a physician assistant.

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