Two UGA undergraduates receive 2009 mid-term Foundation Fellowships

Two University of Georgia undergraduates receive 2009 mid-term Foundation Fellowships

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia sophomores Muktha Natrajan of Martinez and Marcus Hines of Albany have been selected as 2009 mid-term Foundation Fellows. The Fellowship is the university’s premier undergraduate scholarship that provides opportunities for research, travel-study and internships.

Natrajan, a graduate of Lakeside High School, is pursuing a combined bachelor’s/master’s program in which she will earn a bachelor of science degree in genetics and a master’s of public health degree in environmental health science. Hines, a graduate of Albany High School, has a double major in microbiology and cellular biology.

“I have known Muktha and Marcus since they arrived at UGA, so it is personally very exciting to me to welcome them both to the Foundation Fellowship,” said David S. Williams, director of the Honors Program and Foundation Fellowship. “They embody the qualities that the Fellowship stands for they are very intelligent and highly motivated, and they care deeply about bettering society through scholarship and service. It is a pleasure to be around them, and I look forward to working with them as Foundation Fellows.”

University Honors students in their sophomore years who have a minimum cumulative 3.7 GPA are eligible to apply. The scholarship covers tuition, student fees and an assortment of academic and cultural enrichment activities for the last two years of study.

Through the Honors Program’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities apprentice program, Natrajan conducts stem cell research with Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Steven Stice, her research mentor. She is now studying whether neural progenitor cells can be considered potential stem cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Natrajan made poster presentations on her freshman research on stem cell differentiation at a stem cell workshop and symposium at UGA in 2008. She also participated in the 2008 Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, the nation’s largest research conference for underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences.

“I am very excited to be a part of such a diverse group of intelligent individuals,” said Natrajan, who also was recently named a 2009 Goldwater Scholar. “There are many goals that I will now be able to accomplish with the support of the Fellowship, including an internship with the World Health Organization next summer and attending the United Nations’ climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.”

Natrajan’s extracurricular activities include serving as a certified peer educator with UGA’s Advocating Safe Alternatives for Peers and promoting environmental awareness through the UGA Gameday Recycling Program and the Go Green Alliance, an umbrella organization for campus environmental groups. She is also involved with the Association of Women in Science and UGA’s chapter for Habitat for Humanity.

Natrajan plans to earn a doctorate in neuroscience after earning her UGA degrees in spring 2011. She would like to pursue a public service career, researching environmental pollutants, such as neurotoxins, and developing public policy to minimize their effects on society.

Hines has participated in research since his first semester at UGA as a CURO Hollowell Apprentice and a summer research fellow. Working in the laboratories of Lance Wells and Michael Tiemeyer in UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, Hines is currently analyzing the function of a particular glycan-linked to type II diabetes and cancer-in the nervous system of the Drosophila fly. He presented this research at the 2008 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.

Hines also has been involved as a scholar and mentor with the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a program that strives to increase the number of minority students earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He placed third for his poster presentation at the annual research conference this past fall.

“I welcome the opportunity to interact with the numerous faculty and students associated with the Fellowship,” said Hines, who received a Ramsey Honors Scholarship as an entering freshman. “I look forward to using the Foundation Fellowship to attain my goals, such as traveling to other countries to study their healthcare systems and attending national and international research conferences.”

On campus, Hines serves as an ambassador for the Honors Program and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and sings in the UGA a cappella group the Accidentals. He also volunteers at Mercy Health Center, a clinic that provides social services for the uninsured in Athens.

After graduating in spring 2011, Hines would like to earn a Ph.D. in cellular biology and an M.D. He hopes to become a physician-scientist at a university-run hospital, specializing in oncology.

The Foundation Fellows Program was established in 1972 by the trustees of the University of Georgia Foundation to provide an enhanced educational experience for academically outstanding undergraduate students. For more information, see http://www.uga.edu/honors/fellows.