Hampton University
HU Student Receives HHMI Gilliam Award for Doctoral Study
03/19/2013 - #56

Hampton University senior Kayla Lee has received one of nine 2013 Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study awarded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The awards provide full support to outstanding students in their pursuit of doctoral degrees in life sciences.

HHMI awards Gilliam fellows $46,500 a year for up to four years. The program's goal is to improve the diversity of college and university faculty members by supporting students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. Lee is a biology major interested in studying genetics and molecular biology.

“Kayla’s superb performance in the Hampton University HHMI program and the Exceptional Research Opportunity program positioned her to receive the prestigious Gilliam Fellowship,” stated Dr. Edison Fowlks, HU professor and director of the HU HHMI program. “Kayla and recent scholars of the HHMI program are helping us to meet one of our goals, of increasing the entry of graduates into biology, computer science, mathematics and engineering Ph.D. programs."

The HU HHMI laboratory allows students to focus on areas of emerging biology like genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, molecular evolution and metagenomics. HU also offers a five-week pre-freshman summer program for incoming freshmen students interested in biology, computer science, engineering or mathematics. The primary goal of the program is to increase the number of students pursuing graduate training leading to Ph.D. degrees and careers.

“My introduction to Dr. Fowlks and the HU HHMI program during my freshman year at Hampton University opened the doors to incredible opportunities, stated Lee, who will attend Harvard in the fall. “His mentorship has had an amazing impact in helping me understand scientific research and meeting many other scientists, which was essential in receiving the Gilliam Fellowship.”

Established in 2004, HHMI has committed nearly $13.2 million to the Gilliam program. In addition to financial support, fellows also attend meetings with HHMI scientists and receive professional development mentoring as they launch their academic careers.

In 2008, HHMI awarded the HU Department of Biology $1.2 million to support the department with faculty development opportunities, an updated biology curriculum, a renovated laboratory and the development of a modern student research and training laboratory.

The nine winners of the 2013 Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study, their undergraduate institutions and proposed area of research are:

  • Jawara Allen - Duke University (Immunology, Microbiology and Virology)
  • Donald Bryant - Emory University (Cell and Developmental Biology)
  • Brian Castellano - San Jose State University  (Structural Biology and Biochemistry)
  • Kayla Lee - Hampton University (Genetics and Molecular Biology)
  • Fabian Ortega - Yale University (Biochemistry and Structural Biology)
  • Sofia Quinodoz - Princeton University (Systems Biology and Bacterial Signaling)
  • Gabriel Rangel - Purdue University (Genetics and Molecular Biology)
  • Brenda Marin-Rodriguez - University of California-Davis (Genetics and Molecular Biology)
  • Juan Ruiz - University of Miami  (Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine)


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