SU Student Named Marshall Scholarship Finalist

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SALISBURY, MD—Salisbury University senior Jessica Pierce recently was named a finalist for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship.

If selected, she would be the first SU student to earn the honor, allowing her to travel to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience with a focus on epilepsy research.

“I found their program in translational neuroscience fascinating and different from other traditional neuroscience offerings and I’ve always been interested in going abroad, so this was a perfect fit,” said Pierce. “Epilepsy affects a lot people, but not a lot of research has been done pertaining to children. It would be nice to build research and fill that gap, especially with the huge difference medications have on children and the current use of antiepileptic medications (AEDs) to treat the disease.”

Each year, the Marshall Scholarship finances 50 U.S. scholars of high ability to study at a U.K. institution in any field of study. The program was created by Parliament in 1953 as a tribute to U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who developed the European Recovery Program through which the U.S. provided more than $12 billion in foreign aid to Western Europe following World War II.

Pierce answered a variety of questions regarding ambassadorship, leadership and research during the recent final interview round, conducted by a Marshall Scholarship committee comprised of university, corporate and scientific leaders from the U.S. and U.K. Winners will be announced December 1.

 “My goal is to eventually work in the public sector, hopefully at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducting research that can be translated to a clinical setting and working with some of most prevalent diseases people face,” said Pierce.

Pierce, a biology and psychology major, will be one step closer to that goal this summer assisting with neuroscience schizophrenia research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The Silver Spring native is no stranger to research or accolades. She has presented research at venues including Posters on the Bay in Annapolis, SU’s Summer Research Scholars event and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. She also has completed an NIH summer research fellowship and is one of SU’s inaugural recipients of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Her undergraduate research topics have included coping with the effects of stress on a molecular level and how hyperglycemia affects the central nervous system in adult zebrafish.

“I think it’s amazing how many scholarships are available, and I’m not sure I would have received the same undergraduate experiences at a different institution,” said Pierce. “From help from my faculty mentors, Drs. Kristen Walton and Jessica Clark, to courses related to my research like cell biology and molecular genetics, I’ve had great resources at SU.”

SU students or alumni who are interested in applying for national fellowships may contact Walton, SU nationally competitive fellowships director, at kpwalton@salisbury.edu for assistance.  For more information visit www.salisbury.edu/nationalfellowships.

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