Senior Joseph Paul has received a prestigious National Science Foundation Research Fellowship. Paul, a biology major, took English 3820: Scientific Writing with Dr. Michelle Eble of the Department of English.
“I was excited to see that Joseph had received such a prestigious award, but I wasn’t surprised,” Dr. Eble said. “Joseph knew that advancing knowledge in any field involved articulating research results and communicating with other members in his discipline. Over the semester, he worked hard to articulate in writing what he knew about neuroscience and genome editing research for a variety of audiences and purposes: field specialists, public audiences, and funding agencies.
“He received an excellent foundation here at ECU, and I’m looking forward to following his career!”
Read the full ECU-issued story below.
Republished from: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/Paul-NSF-fellowship.cfm
May 4, 2016
By Jessica Nottingham
Joseph Paul’s graduation from East Carolina University on May 6 will mark another step in his research career with a move to California.
Paul will attend the University of California, Berkeley to study cell biology at no cost thanks to a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He is the first undergraduate student from ECU to receive the prestigious NSF award, said Dr. Jeff McKinnon, professor and chair of ECU’s Department of Biology.
“This is the most competitive fellowship in American science,” McKinnon said. “Only the strongest students even apply, and of those, about 12 percent are successful. It speaks well of Joseph and of the training that we are providing him.”
NSF Fellows are expected to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation’s technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large, according to the program’s website.
Since 2013, Paul has been working on genome editing research with ECU biology assistant professor Dr. Yiping Qi. The goal of the work is to bring innovative agricultural tools that will improve crops grown in eastern North Carolina, Paul said.
“Genome editing in plants is an up-and-coming tool that’s being used world-wide in biology, but we’re applying it to the region,” said Paul, who hopes to be a scientist in academia or private industry designing new drugs or biotech tools.
Paul’s interest in research began with a high school summer internship in a laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. The internship was such a good fit that Paul was invited back the next two summers as a paid special projects associate.
“I worked on a project that received a lot of attention. It caused a paradigm shift in ALS research,” said Paul, an EC Scholar who will earn a bachelor’s degree in biology. “I was very fortunate. I really liked the science that they were doing.”
Paul’s tenure at the Mayo Clinic led to a connection at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he continued his work with ALS as a visiting researcher for two summers. From this experience, Paul published an article in Science magazine as a junior and Nature Neuroscience as a senior at ECU.
“Most faculty hope to have an article appear in Science at some point in our careers,” said McKinnon. “It’s very unusual to start off a career with that as a junior in college — auspicious to say the least.”
Now with five years of research experience, notable publications and acceptances to Ivy League doctoral programs, Paul will receive a $102,000 stipend over three years plus a $12,000 allowance for expenses such as fees, professional development and personal research endeavors from the NSF.
“The fellowship is a truly humbling honor,” Paul said. “The award really recognizes my research mentors and the fellows and students who have trained me over the past five or so years. Aside from teaching me the technical skills necessary to be a scientist, they have consistently challenged me to think critically about experiments and have set the best example for being an engaged and generous scientist.”
Since 1952, NSF has funded close to 50,000 graduate research fellowships, which is just 10 percent of their received applications. For the 2016 competition, NSF received close to 17,000 applications, and made 2,000 award offers.