School of Biomedical Sciences

December Spotlight: Dean’s Research Fellowship Incentive Awardees

The ability to write a successful grant proposal is a critical skill for success in many careers — it demonstrates logical thinking, clear writing, and an understanding of the research field. Receiving a nationally funded fellowship provides external evidence that a student has successfully acquired these skills.

GSBS has established an incentive plan designed to encourage submission of applications from students enrolled in disciplines in which individual fellowships are available. The Graduate School has also created the Dean’s Fellowship Incentive Award of $1,000 for those students whose fellowship grants are funded.

Jessica Proulx: NIH, National Institute of Drug Abuse

Mentor: Kathleen Borgmann, PhD

Jessica was awarded an F31 fellowship that funds her training through 2023 and is titled:  “The ER-mitochondrial interface in astrocytes during METH exposure and HIV-1 infection”.  She will study astrocytes, which are key regulators of CNS health and neuronal function. Astrocyte mitochondrial dysfunction, such as induced by HIV-1 and METH, threatens the provision of essential metabolic and antioxidant support to neurons. Thus, delineating regulatory pathways that can be targeted to prevent aberrant mitochondria homeostasis in astrocytes will be imperative for ensuring neuronal fitness/survival against CNS pathologies.

Alexa Kelly: NSF, Biological Anthropology Program

Mentor: Scott Maddux, PhD

Alexa was awarded a Doctoral Research Dissertation award titled: “The Interactive Influence of Environment and Energetics on Human Morphology”. Her doctoral dissertation project examines the combined effects (and possible functional trade-offs) of demands for respiratory air-conditioning and oxygen intake on the nasal complex during human evolution. By explicitly investigating climatic adaptation in nasal morphology within the context of human body size and shape, this study helps address how different anatomical systems have co-evolved in response to environmental pressures.

Graci Finco: COPL (Center for Orthotic and Prosthetic Learning and Outcomes/ Evidence-Based Practice)

Mentors: Drs. Rachel Menegaz and Rita Patterson.

Graci was awarded funding from the Center for Orthotic and Prosthetic Learning and Outcomes/ Evidence-Based Practice (COPL). Her project is titled: “Wearable Sensors in Prosthetic Practice: Can Walking Symmetry Supplement Clinical Measures to Assess Fall Risk?”. A Certified and Licensed Prosthetist herself, her doctoral dissertation examines how impaired musculoskeletal and gait symmetry influence health outcomes in individuals with lower-limb amputations. This study will help determine how clinicians can proactively assess and reduce falls, which are prevalent in this population.

For more information about this program, contact Dr. Paula Gregory, Associate Dean for Faculty and Research Development, via email: