The Department of Biological Sciences recently honored 19 students and faculty at its spring 2012 Honors and Awards ceremony. Among these award recipients were Elizabeth Warburton, who was awarded the Willis A. Reid Jr. Research Grant, and Rachel Denny, who received the Distinguished Pre-Professional in Biological Sciences award.
Elizabeth Warburton—Willis A. Reid Student Research Grant
Elizabeth Warburton, a Ph.D. candidate in biology, recently was awarded the Willis A. Reid Jr. Student Research Grant from the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP). This is the only graduate student grant ASP gives and this year Elizabeth had the highest-rated proposal in the nation.
“I am very pleased to receive this grant because senior members in my field feel my project is interesting and worthwhile,” said Warburton.
Her research focuses on why a minority of parasite hosts carry heavy parasitic infections while the majority of hosts have light infections or none at all. Or, in lay terms, “not all hosts have equal probability of transmitting the infection to another individual…the heavily infected hosts are much more likely to spread disease,” she said.
Warburton notes the importance of this research topic for society as a whole. “My research findings would benefit both conservation and public health by predicting which individuals in the population hold more responsibility for parasite transmission and disease maintenance in threatened wildlife and human populations,” she said.
In addition to receiving this grant, Warburton was awarded a Gwen Frostic Fellowship and a Grant In Aid from the American Society of Mammologists.
Rachel Denny—Distinguished Pre-Professional in Biological Sciences award
Rachel Denny, a biological sciences minor, also received a prestigious award: the Distinguished Pre-Professional in Biological Sciences award, an award based on faculty input to select the outstanding biology or biomedical sciences major in a pre-professional curriculum.
“For me this was a great honor,” said Denny. “I was truly surprised when I received the email saying I had won this award. I was very grateful for my teacher, Dr. David Karowe, for nominating me for this award. He has been one of the best professors I have ever had at Western.”
Denny is already using her biological science savvy to help spark her career and is “applying to medical school for the school year of 2013,” she said.
While not having any concrete research planned, Denny will work with Karowe on her Honors College Thesis. “My thesis is a comprehensive review on the literature of the effects of climate change on birds and mammals,” she said.
As a prospective graduate, Denny has experienced the opportunities and provides this advice for students hoping to follow in her footsteps.
“Have an open mind and be open to all possibilities, you never know what will spark your interest,” she said. “Do not be afraid to talk to your professors and get the help you need. The professors love to help students and are a great resource.”
WMU salutes Warburton and Denny and their contributions to the biological sciences research field.