The Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellowship program — a competitive award program that is open to all Virginia Tech undergraduates — has awarded 15 fellowships for the 2018-19 academic year. The goal of the program is to increase diversity in research.

Each Fellow receives $1,000 to conduct research with a Virginia Tech faculty mentor over the course of one academic year. This year’s recipients are:

  • Amber Abbott, a junior majoring in microbiology in the College of Science
  • Morgan Gallagher, a senior majoring in environmental science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Thomas Hale, a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Mian Liao, a junior majoring in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Courtney Linkous, a senior majoring in wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Kelsey McMahon, a junior majoring in sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Elieser, Mejia, a senior majoring in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Mika Pagani, a senior majoring in environmental science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Ainsley Patrick, a senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science
  • Adri Ridings, a senior majoring in biochemistry in the College of Science
  • Annelise Stunes, a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science
  • Sophia Textoris, a junior majoring in human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Becky Tran, a junior majoring in animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Rachel Ward, a junior majoring in experimental neuroscience in the College of Science
  • Alexandra Russell, a senior majoring in mining engineering in the College of Engineering

The Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellowship program was created by Dennis Dean, director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, in partnership with the Office of Undergraduate Research.

“The Fralin Fellowship program helps to remove some of the traditional barriers to undergraduate research and makes it accessible, particularly to underserved student populations. It is really exciting to engage this diverse group of talented students in such a broad variety of research projects—this group truly showcases the broad interpretation of research across campus,” said Keri Swaby, university undergraduate research coordinator.

This is the third year that fellowships have been awarded. Students applied to the program in the late spring and summer of 2018 and are beginning their research projects this fall.

Dean created the program because of the value that his own undergraduate research experience at Wabash College added to the launch of his career. Although Dean is a biochemist, a key component of the program is that it is available to students interested in all types of research, even research outside of the life sciences.

Another important component of the program is Dean’s desire to fund students from underrepresented groups, including, but not limited to, ethnic minorities, first generation college students, students from low-income areas, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students.

The mission of the Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellowship aligns closely with the university motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve.)  

In addition to a close mentoring relationship with their primary faculty member, fellows will meet with Dean and Swaby throughout the program. “This is a fun program for Keri and me. We get to meet terrific students across many disciplines and share the excitement they bring to their projects,” said Dean.  

Dean and Swaby will be available for one-on-one meetings and will host a breakfast where students can meet one another and share their findings, thus creating excitement and possible interdisciplinary collaborations. Students are expected to present their research results at the end of the research year in an undergraduate research showcase.