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Atlanta ARCS Foundation awards $55,000 to support seven UGA graduate students in biomedical sciences

Athens, Ga. -The Atlanta chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Students Foundation recently awarded $55,000 to seven outstanding University of Georgia doctoral students in the biomedical and health sciences, one of whom will receive a special $10,000 grant for global health research abroad.

Presented at an awards ceremony at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, the ARCS Foundation gala event featured keynote speaker Nicholas Patrick, a British-born engineer and NASA astronaut. Patrick earned an engineering degree from the University of Cambridge, England and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His flight on the 2006 Discovery STS-116 mission made him the fourth Briton to travel in space.

The ARCS Foundation was founded in Los Angeles in 1958 and is dedicated to helping meet the country’s needs for scientists and engineers by providing scholarships to academically outstanding university students. UGA recipients of the award are selected through the UGA Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute. This year’s ARCS Scholars represent four UGA schools and colleges-the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Odum School of Ecology.

The following students are UGA ARCS Foundation Scholars for 2010-11.

  • Phillip Callihan of Atlanta, Ga., is a Ph.D. candidate in pharmaceutical and biomedical science. His research focuses on the lipid signaling pathways that regulate growth and cell fate in early neural development.Currently, Callihan is investigating how Fumonisin B1, a food-borne fungal toxin widely found in developing countries, affects lipid signaling and leads to birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Elizabeth Driskell of Cape Girardeau, Mo.,is pursuing a doctoral degree in veterinary pathology. She studies the transmission and pathogenesis of wild bird avian influenza viruses in mammals in order to better understand the potential impact of these viruses on human population. Driskell, a veterinarian, recently completed a residency in veterinary anatomic pathology.
  • Carly Jordan of Houston, Texas, is a Ph.D. candidate in cellular biology. Her research focuses on the cell division process in the human parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Jordan’s true passion, however, is the classroom. In addition to teaching numerous courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels, she has conducted original research improving the authenticity of laboratory courses.
  • Megan McCormick of Fayetteville, Ga., is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology. She currently is examining the barriers that prevent adolescent organ transplant recipients from adhering to their immunosuppressant drug regimens. She hopes a better understanding of this issue can lead to detection and better health outcomes for young patients.
  • Bonney Reed-Knight is from Habersham County, Ga. and is pursing her Ph.D. in psychology. Her doctoral work focuses on pediatric health, with a particular interest in applying psychological research to improve disease outcomes and quality of life in youth with gastrointestinal disorders, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
  • Julie Rushmore of Alpharetta, Ga., is a DVM/Ph.D. candidate who is receiving training in veterinary medicine and ecology. Her research examines the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in African great apes and assesses how social behavior affects pathogen transmission in wild chimpanzees. Because of her extensive research studying public health, disease ecology and wildlife conservation in Africa, Rushmore was selected to receive this year’s ARCS Global Impact Grant.
  • Alecia Septer of Gahanna, Ohio, is a pursing a Ph.D. in microbiology. For her dissertation work, Septer is studying the symbiosis between the bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the squid Euprymna scolopes in order to better understand how environmental cues regulate bacterial communication as they colonize their host.

The Atlanta chapter of the ARCS Foundation has awarded more than $2.1 million in scholarships to students at the University of Georgia, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Morehouse College. Additional information about the foundation can be found at For more information about UGA’s Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, see