One of the stated goals of the NIGMS RISE mechanism is to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who pursue doctoral education in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. We are fortunate here at NCCU to have an excellent Department of Psychology (and other social sciences departments) who collaborate closely with the basic science departments. Psychology and Public Health Education faculty are key members, for example, of projects within a NCI U54 cancer research program to examine behavioral and community-based approaches to increasing cancer screening among local minority groups.
The position of the NCCU RISE internal advisory board has been that the behavioral sciences are intertwined with critical issues where basic sciences directly influence the human condition. What good is understanding dietary causes of diabetes, cancer, and/or obesity, if people don't or can't use this information to reduce their disease risk? And how do our interactions with one another influence our health?
Today, we bring you one of our RISE scholars from the Department of Psychology, Samantha Cacace. Sam is a completing her first year in the Master's Program in Psychology after getting hooked on the field over at our constituent member institution, NC State University in Raleigh (about 20 miles away). We've asked Samantha to tell us about her path to this discipline and elaborate on her first professional meeting presentation earlier this month.
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NCCU RISE Scholar Melony Ochieng is currently a junior at North Carolina Central University where she is a double major in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemistry. She is currently the president of the NCCU student chapter of the American Chemical Society and a coordinator of Women Inspiring Learning Momentum, a mentoring program for middle-school girls.
Photo: Nzingha Saunders
Aside from her leadership positions, she is currently working on developing a drug delivery system for breast cancer under the guidance of Dr. Darlene Taylor in the Department of Chemistry. In addition to her NCCU experiences, Melony has interned at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill doing research in biophysics, at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan, Poland, doing research in photophysics and photochemistry in conjunction with Dr. Stefan Franzen, North Carolina State University. This coming summer she will intern at The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
In this post, Melony journals her experience at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Melony competed in the undergraduate research caucus as a 2011-2012 AACR-Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Awardee. (Background on Dr. Bardos and his named award can be found here.) Melony's project with Dr. Taylor was to synthesize a nanoparticle conjugate of the poorly-soluble breast cancer drug, fulvestrant, to enhance selective delivery of the active compound.
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