Junior Chosen for Prestigious Amgen Scholars Program


MACON – Mercer University student Kelsy Cotto, a biochemistry and molecular biology major in the College of Liberal Arts, has been selected as an Amgen Scholar and will spend 10 weeks this summer conducting research at Washington University in St. Louis.

Cotto, a junior from Tifton, will be one of 20 Amgen Scholars at Washington University from May 26-Aug. 8, where she will be working on cutting-edge biotechnology research.

In addition to research, she will participate in lab meetings, scientific and professional development seminars and workshops, and social activities. She will also write a paper and present a scientific poster at the end of the summer.

“I am thrilled about being selected as an Amgen Scholar. I applied to this program for the unique research opportunities available at Washington University. The translational science that I will see as a part of this program, along with my previous research experiences, will allow me to learn about new areas of research and refine my interests, which will be valuable as I apply to graduate school next fall,” said Cotto, a Presidential Scholar, Tift Scholar and a participant in the Honors Program at Mercer. “I feel like my acceptance into this program was a result of the focus that Mercer places on students to get involved with research early.”

Cotto conducts undergraduate research in the lab of Dr. Garland Crawford, assistant professor of chemistry, where she investigates the regulation of the enzyme OGA. She has also worked with Dr. Bill Jenkins, associate professor of psychology at Mercer, and Dr. Coran Watanabe, associate professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University.

“Kelsy is a great student and does an exceptional job of integrating her coursework into her research project. She is insightful in the laboratory and is quick to learn the intricacies of new techniques. She has sought out a variety of experiences to explore different disciplines,” said Dr. Crawford. “Washington University is a world leader in biomedical research. This is a fantastic opportunity for her, and I know, with her drive, that she will have a successful and productive summer.”

The Amgen Scholars program, made possible through a 12-year, $50 million commitment from the Amgen Foundation, selects a total of 200 U.S. undergraduates each year who participate in research at one of 10 world-class institutions.

Following their summer research experiences, Amgen Scholars participate in a symposium at UCLA where students hear firsthand from leading scientists working in industry and academia. Scholars have the chance to share their research projects with their peers, as well.

The program is designed to prepare students to apply to top-tier graduate and professional schools as well as foster an understanding of the excitement and trajectory for a career in creating new knowledge. In addition to the U.S., Amgen Scholars are selected in Europe and Japan.

Amgen is a multinational biopharmaceutical company committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. For more information, visit www.amgen.com.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.