The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Six Huck Institutes IGDP students receive awards in spring 2017

Please join us in congratulating Weile Chen (Ecology), Adwitia Dey (Integrative and Biomedical Physiology), Sarah Jefferson (Neuroscience), Yurika Matsui (Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Biosciences), Bastian Minkenberg (Plant Biology), and William Turbitt (Integrative and Biomedical Physiology) on their accomplishments.

Weile ChenAlumni Association Dissertation Award (Penn State)

Weile Chen
Weile Chen
 

Weile’s research is focused on mycorrhizal fungi and their relationship with plants in acquiring nutrients, with the aim of providing guidance for ecosystem management under changing climates.

“It is my great honor to receive the Alumni Association Dissertation Award. As an international student, I am very grateful to all the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the Huck Institutes, who together create an excellent environment for study and research. My appreciation also goes to the Huck Graduate Dissertation Research Grants, which funded my dissertation research in 2015.”

 

Adwitia DeyGraduate Exhibition, Research Poster Option, Health and Life Sciences, Third Place (Penn State)

Adwitia’s research is focused on understanding the role of macrophages (the cells of the body responsible for regulating inflammation) in the natural progression of inflammation in the aging brain prior to the onset of clinical symptoms, with the goal of informing preventative targeting of therapeutic drugs.

Adwitia Dey
Adwitia Dey
 

“The Huck Institutes and the IGDP in Physiology have been integral mediators of my growth throughout the entirety of my PhD years here at Penn State. The curriculum has taught me the importance of communicating my research and actively engaging in opportunities such as the Graduate Exhibition. The Huck Institutes allows for students such as me to expand our knowledge base and further our skills ‘toolbox’ by fostering student attendance to outside meetings and supporting student efforts such as the Life Science Symposium. These meetings have greatly shaped my communication skills that have allowed me to effectively present my research to a varying spectrum of audiences. This award encourages me to continue to engage in communicating my research to the society that helps fund it. In my generation of biological research, having the tools and support of the Huck Institutes and the IGDP in Physiology, as well as receiving this Graduate Exhibition award, is essential to my ability to grow effectively and contribute to the future of life sciences.”

 

Sarah JeffersonRuth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (National Institute of Mental Health)

Sarah Jefferson
 

Sarah’s research is focused on how specific types of neurons alter anxiety- and depression-related behaviors as well as behavioral responses to environmental stress, with the goal of identifying new molecular targets for more-effective and faster-acting antidepressant drugs.

“I am honored to have been selected for this prestigious award, and I would like to express my gratitude to my mentor, Dr. Lüscher, for sponsoring the fellowship and providing an abundance of valuable insight, as well as to Melissa Rolls, Gong Chen, Nikki Crowley, Istvan Albert, and Craig Praul for the guidance and expertise they offered in support of my proposed research.”

 

Yurika MatsuiHarold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award (Penn State)

Yurika’s research is focused on the roles of specific functional proteins in regulating cell signaling in cancerous tumor development.

Yurika Matsui
Yurika Matsui
 

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my research mentor, Zhi-Chun Lai, and my teaching mentors, Jennelle Malcos and Kim Nelson, as well as Melissa Rolls, chair of the IGDP in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Biosciences; Lori Van der Sluys, director of summer experience in the Eberly College of Science; and, last but not least, my friends and family. They provided me with various teaching opportunities, encouraged me to develop and exercise my own pedagogy in classrooms and labs, and always supported me in overcoming challenges I encountered during my graduate teaching and research.”

 

Bastian MinkenbergAlumni Association Dissertation Award (Penn State)

Bastian’s research is focused on the function of genes in cell signaling related to plant development and environmental stress response, with the goal of accelerating crop breeding for beneficial traits in order to meet the increasing global demand for food.

Bastian Minkenberg
Bastian Minkenberg
 

“Graduate students like me struggle nowadays with the challenging funding climate and the tough academic job market. It is very important to us that our work gets recognized and that people care about it. These celebrations of our achievements ensure that we stay motivated and feel it is worthwhile to keep up the good work. Receiving the Alumni Association Dissertation Award has encouraged me to stay in academia and to continue my goal of impacting people’s lives with better methods for basic research and crop development. I thank the Alumni Association for supporting me and my dissertation work, which hopefully will empower research as well as ensure food security. I attribute much of my success to the IGDP in Plant Biology and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Professor Teh-hui Kao, the program’s chair, always did his best in supporting me with advice and letters of recommendation. In addition, the Huck Dissertation Research Grant provided funding for two of my publications and also allowed me to travel to conferences to present my research and make connections to other researchers.”

 

William TurbittAlumni Association Dissertation Award (Penn State)

William’s research is focused on the role of changes in energy balance on inflammation, immune regulation, and cancer risk in metastatic breast cancer – specifically the mechanisms by which dietary energy restriction and physical activity influence immune function – with the goal of determining the impact of such changes on breast cancer risk and metastatic progression.

William Turbitt
William Turbitt
 

“The faculty of the IGDP in Physiology – especially the program’s chair, Donna Korzick, and my thesis adviser, Connie Rogers – have been instrumental in my professional development as a scientist. Both have worked tirelessly to strengthen the program and provide essential resources for graduate students to succeed. Additionally, I have benefited immensely from the Huck family’s endowments and philanthropic donations to the University. In 2014, I was awarded the Huck Dissertation Research Award, the funds from which allowed me to investigate my own questions, attend scientific meetings, and use the Penn State core facilities. Both the Huck Institutes and the Alumni Dissertation Award are tremendously helpful in bolstering my credentials and making me more competitive for a post-doctoral position as I continue my training to become an independent scientist. Lastly, I've been a member of the Penn State community for the past ten years, and it has shaped every aspect of my professional life. I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the Alumni Society and I hope to continue to make Penn State proud.”