Megan Andres, a junior at the University of North Georgia (UNG), has been selected for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program, marking the third year in a row that a UNG biology student has been chosen. NIH typically chooses no more than 16 students a year for the program.
The scholarship includes $20,000 for tuition and educational and living expenses for students pursuing careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science research. It also includes a 10-week summer laboratory experience that will enable Andres to train as a paid summer research employee in an NIH research laboratory and full-time employment for one year at NIH after graduation.
"This is an incredible opportunity," Andres said. "Getting experience with the world's largest research institution will take me to new levels, and will greatly increase my chances of getting into a top-notch graduate school program."
Eventually, Andres hopes to work in pediatric oncology.
"The time Megan spends at NIH will propel her forward, both personally and professionally," said Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant dean of student research and scholarship at UNG. "The fact that NIH continues to recognize the potential of UNG students is a testament to our mission to produce individuals who lead in every area of their lives as well as our dedication to providing undergraduate research opportunities."
Andres has been involved in numerous undergraduate research opportunities and other projects, including testing water-quality across northeast Georgia. Twice a month, she and her team sample a dozen sites, measuring pH levels, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen levels. They take samples back to the laboratory for further evaluation.
"We also send samples to the ecological isotopes lab at a larger sister university to run trials we cannot perform here," Andres said. "This growing data set has been compiled over a span of 30 years, and is presented annually to the Chattahoochee Basin Group, which uses our information to help assess trends in water quality from year to year. This significant research ensures that these sites are maintaining water quality standards for the state of Georgia. Each location is a piece of one watershed that supplies drinking water to the metro Atlanta area. As human population rises, I am hoping to gain more knowledge on whether or not this can correlate to a decline in overall water quality."
She is also involved in animal behavior research, and is examining how adolescent exposure to substances similar to ADHD medication might play a role in the likelihood of substance addiction as an adult. She serves as secretary for Tri-Beta, a national biology honor society, and is the founding officer for UNG's chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Hundreds of students nationwide apply for this scholarship program each year. UNG biology students previously selected for the NIH scholarship include Obadi Obadi in 2015 and Joshua McCausland in 2014.For more information about nationally competitive scholarships, visit the website.