Bridge Fellow Testimonials:
Heather Conboy (2016, Salve Regina University) enrolled in the Brown University’s Ph.D. program (fall 2016). “I was very eager to start at Brown, and the Bridges program let me get started early. It allowed me to get comfortable in the environment and with the faculty and other grad students without also having to worry about classes and other obligations.” Heather worked with Brown Assistant Professor Nicolas Fawzi on a project to identify the structure and function of a protein found in the plaques in the brains of ALS patients. Eventually she hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry conducting studies of pharmacology and toxicology. “I’m really interested in how drugs have the potential to harm us, and I’m especially interested in how drugs affect a woman’s reproductive system,” she said. “There’s a long way to go to make sure that drugs are safe for everyone, and I want to be part of that.”
Shelby Johnson (2016, Salve Regina University) enrolled in the University of Rhode Island’s Ph.D. program (fall 2016). Shelby’s SURF experience in Dr. Seeram’s lab opened her eyes to the possibility of enrolling in graduate school at URI. Funding from the Bridges to Graduate School program after earning her bachelor’s degree, made the leap into a doctoral program much easier.
“I learned so many new lab techniques that summer like culturing and C. elegans modeling. That’s when I started to come up with my original research project.” Her research aims to reveal how an extract from a bean native to China and India can reduce inflammation on the brain in patients with Parkinson’s disease. “I have several relatives that have Parkinson’s, so that’s what drew me to the project,” Shelby said. “The plant has been documented to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms in a variety of ways, but the specific compounds and mechanisms are unknown.” She eventually hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry. “But I can also see myself teaching or working for a small start-up,” she added. “With this degree, I’ll be able to do almost anything.”