MACON – Mercer University juniors Amanda Cimino and Molly Parrish were recently chosen as Amgen Scholars and will spend 10 weeks this summer conducting research at Duke University and Yale University, respectively.
Cimino and Parrish are the fourth and fifth Mercer students to participate in the highly selective program designed to prepare STEM undergraduates for top-tier graduate and professional schools and provide research experiences at world-class research universities.
Cimino, from Flowery Branch, is a double-major in biomedical engineering and biochemistry and molecular biology. Upon graduation from Mercer, she aims to pursue a Ph.D. and ultimately a career in research, particularly research related to tissue regeneration and targeted gene delivery.
She conducts research in the lab of Dr. Joanna Thomas, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, involving drug-releasing polymers. She has participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in biomedical engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and presented her research at the 50th annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society last year. She has also participated in a Mercer On Mission trip to Peru and will be presenting research at the upcoming Regenerative Medicine Workshop in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I’m thrilled Amanda has been selected as an Amgen Scholar at Duke,” said Dr. Thomas. “She is an exceptionally bright and determined student. Double-majoring, working in my lab and participating in summer research programs are excellent preparation for graduate school and a career in the interdisciplinary field of biomedical engineering.”
Cimino is a member of the Engineering Scholars Track of the University Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi honor societies and the Society of Women Engineers. She is a Presidential Scholar and has been on the President’s List and Dean’s List each semester at Mercer.
“I am excited to have been selected for the Amgen Scholars Program at Duke and am grateful for the opportunity,” said Cimino. “I hope to gain more firsthand research experience this summer related to the field that I am interested in pursuing as a career.”
Parrish, from Palatka, Florida, is a biochemistry and molecular biology major with minors in chemistry and sociology. She aims to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and work as a research scientist.
She conducts research in the lab of Dr. Garland Crawford, associate professor of chemistry, characterizing potential regulatory mechanisms in the O-linked, N-acetylglucosamine hydrolase enzyme known as OGA, which is thought to play a role in a number of diseases including diabetes and cancer. She has participated in an NSF REU at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying the biochemical and cellular mechanisms of hemostasis and thrombosis.
“I am really proud of Molly for all her work at Mercer and for pursuing this outstanding professional opportunity,” said Dr. Crawford. “She is an exemplary student in the classroom and in the research lab. This program will allow her to explore other areas of biomedical research while adding to an already impressive resume.”
Parrish is a member of the Research Track of the University Honors Program, a Presidential Scholar and has been on the President’s List and Dean’s List each semester at Mercer. She also received an award from the Mathematics Department last spring for Excellence in Calculus II.
She has served as treasurer of Phi Mu sorority and director of entertainment for MU Miracle, and has provided philanthropy and service to organizations such as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Daybreak Center and Loaves & Fishes Ministries. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma and Order of Omega honor societies and the American Chemical Society.
“I am honored to be given this opportunity,” said Parrish. “I am from a small, rural town, so receiving this prestigious scholarship means so much to me. It validates both my hard work and decision to pursue a science career. I hope this program will help me develop as a scientist and learn new skills that translate to my undergraduate research at Mercer as well as in graduate school.”
In addition to research, Cimino and Parrish will participate in lab meetings, scientific and professional development seminars and workshops, and social activities. They will also write a paper and present a scientific poster at the National Amgen Scholars Program Symposium in California this summer.
Amgen Scholars is an international program made possible through a 16-year, $74 million commitment from the Amgen Foundation. Each year, the program provides hundreds of selected undergraduate students with the opportunity to engage in hands-on research experiences at 24 premier educational and research institutions across the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada.