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W&J Selects Merck Scholars for Summer 2022

Created: March 24, 2022  |  Last Updated: March 28, 2022  |  Category:   |  Tagged: , , , , , , ,

WASHINGTON, PA (March 28, 2022) — Seven Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students have been selected to receive stipends from W&J’s Merck Internships for Excellence in Science program to support off-campus biomedical research internships in Summer 2022.

The program, which began with a gift to W&J from the Merck biopharmaceutical company’s Merck Institute for Science Education in 2007, is a competitive award that supports W&J students in their pursuit of biomedical research internships. Applications are open to W&J students who have this interest and who meet the qualifications, regardless of major. Since 2008, 70 W&J students (known as Merck Scholars) have conducted biomedical research internships at world-class institutions both domestically and abroad.

The 2022 Merck Scholars are:

Callie Barber (Biochemistry ‘23) will return to the Brain Tumor Biology and Therapy Lab in the Department of Neurological Surgery at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Callie’s research will focus on the role of iron uptake and ERK5 signaling in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas. This will be a continuation of research that Callie conducted during her Summer 2021 internship, which was funded by W&J’s Maxwell Internships program.

Nagendra Dhanikonda (Biology ‘23) will intern in the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Nagendra’s research will focus on the role of Epstein-Barr virus in the tumor microenvironment of Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Nagendra also received Merck funding for a Summer 2021 internship at the University of California San Francisco in San Francisco, California. 

Rachel Karman (Biochemistry ‘23) will intern in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rachel’s research will focus on racial bias and other factors which impact patient-clinician communication during pre-natal care visits. Rachel also received Merck funding for a Summer 2021 internship at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lekhya Kollu (Biology ‘23) will return to the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine. Lekhya’s research will focus on how co-infection with the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa increases the susceptibility of the fungus Candida albicans to treatment with the anti-fungal drug fluconazole. This will be a continuation of research that Lekhya conducted during her Summer 2021 internship, which was funded by W&J’s Magellan Franklin Internships program.

Hunter Leech (Biology Dec ’23) will intern at Pain Diagnostics and Interventional Care in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Hunter’s research will focus on determining the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulator trials in predicting long-term health outcomes for patients with chronic pain.

Dylan Mayanja (Chemistry ‘23) will return for a second Merck-funded internship in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. Dylan will continue his research from Summer 2021 on the role of astrocyte cells in chronic pain. 

Kayla Stanczak (Biology Dec ’23) will intern in the Center for Vaccine Research of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Kayla’s research will focus on using UV light to inactivate the human pathogen Rift Valley Fever Virus.

The Merck Selection Committee consists of Dr. Candy DeBerry (Biology, Merck program administrator and committee chair), Dr. Ron Bayline (Biology), Dr. Sara Chamberlin (Physics), Dr. Mark Harris (Chemistry), Dr. Alice Lee (Biology), and Dr. Kelly Lohr (Biology).

For more information about research internships by Merck Scholars and other W&J science students, visit the W&J Science Research Internships wiki page or contact Dr. DeBerry.

About W&J’s Merck Internships for Excellence in Science program

Initiated in 2008 through funding from the Merck Institute for Science Education, the program is designed to support W&J students in their efforts to land prestigious research internships in the sciences. Internship fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis, giving science faculty the flexibility to match the most exciting research opportunities with the most qualified students.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.