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Gerald and Sally DeNardo Senior Prize in Science Research 2014
Established in 2007 to complement the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship, this prize is given by the Dean to recognize outstanding science research accomplishment by a graduating senior who reflects the distinctive characteristics of a Jesuit education and is pursuing a career in the health sciences.
The DeNardo Senior Prize is awarded to two individuals this year:
Meghan was nominated by Craig Stephens, Professor and Chair in Biology and Director of the Public Health Program. Meghan is a Biology major with minors in Public Health and Biotechnology.
Meghan has worked in Professors Stephens’ lab at Santa Clara since the summer between her junior and senior years of high school. She started as a high school intern, funded by the Bridge to Employment – Silicon Valley Program sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and the Santa Clara County Biotechnology Education Partnership. Professor Stephens selected Meghan after reviewing 40 applications and interviewing 11 students in person. Meghan had an excellent high school resume, and made a strong impression in person because of her enthusiasm for science.
Once hired, Meghan worked at testing different strains of yeast and bacteria to look at ethanol production rates under a variety of conditions, in order to develop an experimental protocol that undergrads could use to explore fermentation. At the end of the summer, she and her partner presented a beautiful poster on their work at a conference with all of the interns. But the best thing about the whole summer experience was that it got Meghan interested in applying to SCU, where she ended up a year later as a Presidential Scholar and honors student.
In spring of her freshman year, Meghan was a student in Professor Stephens’ Human Health and Disease course, during which time she asked if she could go back to work in the research lab. She ended up working in the lab for three years, with a break while she was studying in Copenhagen.
For the three summers while working for Dr. Stephens Meghan was involved with mentoring the Bridge to Employment high school students as they worked in the lab. This relevant insight and experience she was able to share with these students was influential in helping to define her career path.
Meghan has also participated in various volunteer opportunities during her time at Santa Clara, and one experience was especially enlightening. In her freshman year she joined the Global Medical Brigades Club, and for spring break traveled to Panama in order to give out medical supplies and assist doctors in rural regions of the country.
Professor Stephens says, “Meghan is an extremely bright young woman, and has been successful at SCU in every way that I could have possibly hoped. I expect that she will become an outstanding scientist in the field of infectious diseases in the future. Perhaps most importantly, she is not only a fine scholar with well-rounded intellectual interests - she is also a fine person, exemplifying the conscience and compassion that we hope to cultivate in Santa Clara students.
After graduation Meghan intends to work at either at an academic research institute or biotech company where she can continue to research infectious disease-related issues in microbiology. After one to two years she plans to return to academic studies to pursue a PhD in microbiology, with an emphasis in infectious disease.
Jared was nominated by Prashanth Asuri , Associate Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering. Jared is a Bioengineering major with a minor in Economics.
Professor Asuri writes, “I have known Jared for two years now, both as his course instructor and research advisor for independent research as well as his senior design capstone project. These interactions have provided me with opportunities to assess Jared as a student researcher and a future physician – he has my highest recommendation.”
A self-starter and take-charge person with a strong work ethic and maturity make Jared a vital member of the laboratory.
He has been described as resilient and determined in the face of a challenge. Rather than being discouraged by a few failures when in the lab, he is methodical and relentless in analyzing and overcoming the potential causes of failure.
Jared is also a progressive thinker. He has chosen his research projects so that the experiences can help him with his intended career path in the medical field.
In Dr. Asuri’s laboratory, Jared is working towards the development of human cell-based in vitro screens of neurotoxicity; he was a co-author on the recently published article Role of Three-Dimensional Matrix Stiffness in Regulating the Response of Human Neural Cells to Toxins and is currently assisting the preparation of a second manuscript that describes the development of 3D stem cell cultures for toxicity analysis.
In Summer 2013, Jared received the prestigious Johnson Leadership research scholarship to conduct research at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where he was involved in pre-clinical trials for drug development. Jared worked with a team of Chinese researchers and adjusted to both the scientific and cultural changes.
In addition to excelling in the lab and classroom, Jared believes in paying back to the community. Jared regularly teaches a cultural dance for the Hawai’i club’s annual Lu’au and has performed every year since he was a freshman. He is also the senior advisor for the Chinese Student Association at SCU, where he is involved with planning cultural activities. Jared’s genuine care for others and passion for life makes him a great student leader and role model.
Jared has the character, interpersonal skills, and intellectual capacity to greatly contribute to the global healthcare field. Jared will continue his education at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.