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Summers of Discovery Student Alumnae Honored

By Eddy Ball
June 2008

In May 2005, the Environmental Factor ran a feature on Bell, shown here with her father, after she won her scholarship.
In May 2005, the Environmental Factor ran a feature on Bell, shown here with her father, after she won her scholarship. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Bell posed for this photo on the Duke campus for the feature story on her award.
Bell posed for this photo on the Duke campus for the feature story on her award. (Photo courtesy of Duke University Photography)
Displaying the sense of humor that colleagues found so refreshing, Hsieh is shown responding to the comments of a visitor to her abstract during the 2005 Summers of Discovery poster session.
Displaying the sense of humor that colleagues found so refreshing, Hsieh is shown responding to the comments of a visitor to her abstract during the 2005 Summers of Discovery poster session. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Hsieh posed with colleague Biologist Betsy Kennington, left, and her mentor, Staff Scientist Wi Lai, Ph.D.
Hsieh posed with colleague Biologist Betsy Kennington, left, and her mentor, Staff Scientist Wi Lai, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Two former Summers of Discovery student interns were honored recently by their universities for service to their communities as they have pursued studies related to their research in labs at NIEHS.

Jamie Bell (Summer of 2004)

Jamie Bell, rising senior at Duke University and Durham native, was the recipient of the 2008 Lars Lyon Award given by Duke's Community Service Center for work that was shaped in part by her experiences at NIEHS. Bell was recognized for the development of an obesity prevention education program for local children that will teach students at the Durham Performance Learning Center, an alternative high school, about nutrition, hydration, reading labels and building exercise into daily routines.

The prize is named for a Duke mechanical engineering student who died in 1988 of a rare cancer. While at Duke, Lyon was a leader in university community service, and the prize recognizes the contributions of students who share his dedication to the well-being of others.

When she was a junior at Durham's Jordan High School, Bell spent the summer of 2004 working with NIEHS Epidemiology Branch Senior Investigator Stephanie London, M.D. While at NIEHS, she wrote up a protocol to explore diet, exercise and body fat in high school freshmen, which she implemented at Jordan during her senior year.

Bell's project, "The High School Freshman Diet and Exercise Study," was chosen as a regional finalist. She presented her project in the national finals in Washington DC on April 9-10, 2005, where she received third place among some 650 entries, winning a $20,000 scholarship for her performance. She also presented the results of her research at the NIEHS conference on Environmental Solutions to Obesity in America's Youth that same year.

Bell, who is the daughter of NIEHS Laboratory of Molecular Genetics Senior Investigator Doug Bell, Ph.D., intends to continue her studies in medical school.  While at Duke, she has cultivated her interests in biology and medicine through her studies in biomedical medicine and by taking advantage of research opportunities on campus. In mid-May, she traveled to the international Heart Rhythm conference to present her research, "Short-term Memory Dynamics May Be Associated with Arrhythmogenesis in Infant Rabbit Myocardium," with her Duke mentor and co-author, Salim Idriss.

Bell was featured in a recent issue of Duke Today(http://news.duke.edu/2008/05/bell.html) Exit NIEHS Website.

Grace Hsieh (Summer of 2005)

Grace Hsieh, an intern in the Mechanisms of Signal Transcription Group during the summer of 2005, was awarded the Robie Gold Medal Award during graduation ceremonies at the University of Arizona. Each year, the Robie is awarded to one male student and one female student. According to the University, qualifications for this award include personal integrity, initiative, cooperativeness, enthusiasm, humility, well-rounded interests, active participation in student affairs, service to the University, and a willingness to give more than required.

Hsieh received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Humanities. She is an honors graduate with a triple major in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, East Asian studies, and molecular and cellular biology.

During her freshman year, Hsieh conducted research at NIEHS in the Peptide Hormone Action Group in the Laboratory of Neurobiology headed by Acting Scientific Director Perry Blackshear, M.D., D.Phil., where she developed a surrogate marker protein reporter system to analyze tristetraprolin's regulatory effects on mRNA degradation.

Hsieh's research led to her selection as a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar as well as several co-authorships on publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The Goldwater was one of a long list of honors for Hsieh, which have included induction into Phi Beta Kappa as a sophomore and selection as a member of the All-USA College Academic Second Place Team.

Hsieh will attend Harvard Medical School's Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology M.D. program this fall. She also plans to pursue a master's in public policy or business administration while she is studying to become a physician.

Hsieh was a popular member of the group at NIEHS. As Blackshear recently noted, "Grace has kept in touch, and it has been very gratifying to follow her career since then, culminating in her acceptance to the Harvard-MIT HST program."

Hsieh also looks back fondly at her experience at NIEHS. "My summer at NIEHS was one of the most interesting summers I've had," she said. "Dr. Lai is a consummate teacher and a really great mentor."



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