Three Students Receive German Academic Exchange Service Research Internships in Science and Engineering


MACON – Mercer University students Ben Lehe, Moriah Roycroft and Shailey Shah were recently selected for the German Academic Exchange Service’s (DAAD) Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) summer program.

They are among some 300 undergraduates from North America, Great Britain and Ireland selected each year to work at the top German universities and research institutions.

Lehe, a senior electrical engineering major from Mooresville, North Carolina, will work on microelectronics research related to developing a prototype fitness device based on IoT hardware, Bluetooth and capacitive sensors to support healthier lifestyles.

Roycroft, a junior global health studies and global development studies double-major from Mt. Pleasant North Carolina, will work on developing a lateral flow assay to detect kidney rejection after organ transplantation in an effort to make organ rejection testing easy and accessible to transplant patients.

Shah, a sophomore biochemistry and molecular biology major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, will work on characterizing dirigent proteins, extracellular proteins responsible for directing the synthesis of stereospecific natural products.

Lehe, who is participating in the School of Engineering’s 4+1 Integrated Master of Science Program, is on track to earn his master’s degree in December. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue certification as an engineer in training (EIT) so that he can train to be a professional engineer (PE). He aspires to work in printed circuit board (PCB) development and production or in microelectronics.

His interests include Reformed University Fellowship ministry team, club volleyball, intramural sports and working out.

“Throughout my life, I have yet to set foot on any soil that isn’t American. The chance to take not one step, but many, over a period of 11 weeks in Europe represents the most exciting opportunity of my lifetime so far,” said Lehe. “The most incredible thing is I’ve been blessed with the tremendous opportunity to travel this world while simultaneously taking part in an exciting research project at a small innovation company to promote a healthier lifestyle. I see RISE as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will have a huge impact on my life.”

Roycroft, who minors in biology and chemistry, aims to pursue a career in medicine and public health by obtaining a dual Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)/Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. She would like to practice holistic and preventative family care with an emphasis on improving maternal and child outcomes.

Her interests include community health literacy, maternal health, organ trafficking and toxicology. She is a Mercer Service Scholar, Stamps Scholar, editor-in-chief of the Global Health in Action Newsletter, member of Alpha Epsilon Delta honor society, and works with Delight Ministries, Wesley Foundation, as a student assistant for Dr. Christy Bridges in the School of Medicine and as a science tutor. She has participated in the Hesselbein Global Academy, received the Sprite E. Dowell Award for Exceptional Scholarship, Leadership, and Service and the Spirit of INT Award, and been named a Distinguished Delegate at Model Arab League nationals.

“Being selected for the DAAD RISE program is a dream come true,” said Roycroft. “Watching my education come full circle from my QEP Visionary Student Panel presentation on organ transplantation and trafficking during my freshman year has been exhilarating. I am looking forward to meeting other passionate researchers, improving my technical skills, exploring Europe and hopefully improving quality-of-life standards for organ transplant recipients.”

Shah, who minors in global health studies, is on the pre-med track and plans to earn her M.D. She currently does research in the lab of Dr. Emilianne Limbrick on the biosynthesis of lanthipeptides, antibiotics synthesized naturally by certain bacteria.

A Stamps Scholar and participant in Leadership Mercer, she is also the co-founder of Real Talk: Student Edition, a platform that seeks out Mercer students to give talks to their peers aimed at spreading awareness about mental health issues and facing life’s challenges. She has studied abroad in Cuba and India, as well as Vietnam on a Mercer On Mission trip, and is involved in the Mercer Prosthetics and Orthotics Club.

“I am so excited for this opportunity because it will give me a chance to really explore research in a more intensive setting to decide how it fits in my future career goals,” said Shah. “Of course, the trip also serves as an avenue to do what I love and continue exploring the world and meeting people I would not have the chance to know otherwise.”

The DAAD RISE program was first offered in 2005, providing internships to work with research groups at top institutions across Germany for two to three months during the summer. Interns are matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. The internship includes a stipend to cover living expenses, and partner institutions provide housing assistance.