ARCS Scholars Award, 2015

Twelve University of Georgia graduate students have received the ARCS Foundation Atlanta Chapter’s 2015-2016 ARCS Scholars Award, which provides financial awards to academically outstanding U.S. citizens studying to complete degrees in science, engineering, and medical research.

The following are the 2015-2016 recipients of the ARCS or “Achievement Rewards for College Scientists” awards from the Atlanta Chapter:

Lydia Anderson is a DVM-Ph.D. student in the Tripp Laboratory within the Department of Infectious Diseases. Her dissertation research involves determining the mechanisms of immunity and disease pathogenesis associated with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and vaccine development. She plans to use her training to help address the challenges in emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases currently facing human population health.

John Avery is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Stephen Dalton within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His dissertation focus is tissue engineering. He is specifically establishing a method to generate brown adipose tissue from human pluripotent stem cells. By further understanding the basic biology of brown adipocyte development, he hopes to identify promising new therapeutic strategies to combat obesity and metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes.

Daniel Becker is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Odum School of Ecology. His research involves the use of field studies and mathematical models to understand how changes in wildlife food resources influence infectious disease dynamics and risk of pathogen spread to humans. He applies his findings to a study of how infectious disease in vampire bats is altered by the expansion of livestock rearing in Peru and Belize.

Heather Bishop is a Ph.D. candidate in the Muralidharan Lab in the Department of Cellular Biology. She studies the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteins in the deadliest human malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum), which has developed resistance to all clinically available drugs. Her research aims to further understand the malaria disease (and the biology of the parasite) and to find effective new treatments.

Anastasia Bobilev is a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Division of the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute. Her research focuses on neuroanatomical and sensory processing abnormalities in a genetic disorder of the eye called aniridia, which is caused by mutations of the PAX6 gene. She hopes her work will further our understanding of the nature of this disorder as well as the effects of mutations of this gene on the adult brain.

Kerri Coon is a doctoral candidate in the Strand Lab in the Department of Entomology. Her research focuses on how gut bacteria contribute to the development and reproduction of disease-transmitting mosquitoes. A better understanding of mosquito-bacteria interactions may lead to novel strategies to control mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit.

Wided Najahi-Missaoui is a Ph.D. candidate in the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Department in the College of Pharmacy. Her research focuses on developing liposome-based drug delivery systems to target cancer. The overall goal is to integrate the pathophysiology of cancer with the pharmacology of such drug delivery systems to develop more efficient targeted cancer therapy for the treatment of prostate and breast cancer.

David Schaeffer is a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience program. His research employs magnetic resonance imaging techniques to map neural networks related to deficits in cognition with schizophrenia. The ultimate goal of his research is to provide evidence of neural markers with can be used in developing brain-based diagnostic tests for schizophrenia.

Natalie Scholpa is a Ph.D. candidate in the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Department in the College of Pharmacy. She researches the brain’s response to cocaine in an effort to unearth why certain individuals become addicted, while others do not. Her research indicates a role for regulation of certain proteins as a potential therapeutic treatment not only for addiction, but also other neuropathologies.

Anthony Szempruch is a Ph.D. candidate in the Hajduk lab within the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department. His research focuses on the pathogenic protozoan (Trypanosoma brucei), the causing agent of human African sleeping sickness and the cattle wasting disease Nagana. He is hopeful that his work will allow for the development of therapeutics that will directly block disease pathology in both human and animal infections.

Emily Trunnell is a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Division of the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute. Her research examines the genetic and epigenetic effects of a high fat diet on the rodent hippocampus. She is specifically interested in changing the expression of genes following acute high fat diet intake as well as the effects of maternal high fat diet intake on the hippocampi of offspring.

Jeremy Yatvin is a Ph.D. student in the Locklin Lab within the Department of Chemistry. He studies the way positively charged antimicrobial surfaces kill bacteria and ways in which to use highly specific and efficient chemistries to attach molecules to model surfaces. He hopes his research will have applications in making common surfaces deadly to diseases like MRSA and making model biological surfaces.

Since it’s founding in 1958, the ARCS Foundation has provided close to 16,000 scholar awards totaling over $96 million at 53 universities, and has grown to almost 1500 members in 16 chapters across the United States. Since 1992, when ARCS Foundation Atlanta Chapter was formed, a total of almost $4.2 million in scholar awards have been provided. For more information about ARCS at UGA, see


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