Albany State University Student Conducts Medical Research At UCLA
Rising senior admitted to UCLA ‘Pathways to PhDs’ program
Albany State University forensic science student, Victoria Stephens, traveled to California June 19 to engage in evolutionary medicine research at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), one of the highest ranked research institutions in the world.
The UCLA “Evolutionary Medicine: Pathways to PhDs” program is being held from June 19 to August 13 on the university’s campus. Stephens, a rising senior, will explore how evolutionary and ecological principles affect medicine and medical applications. She will also examine how medical and clinical problems generate new research questions in evolution. Evolutionary medicine combines ecology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, psychology, zoology, systems biology and microbiology with medicine.
“My goal is to become a clinical or anatomical pathologist,” Stephens said. “Through the internship, I will gain more research skills and knowledge about medicine and people in general.”
ASU president Art Dunning said this will be a wonderful experience for Stephens and will prepare her to make a lasting impact in the medical field.
“As the Baby Boom generation ages and that population continues to increase, especially here in Southwest Georgia, our need for experienced professionals in the medical field will also increase,” Dunning said. “Stephens’ experience is a great example of the opportunities that are available for our students.”
Stephens, along with the other summer interns will work closely with professors from UCLA’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department and the David Geffen School of Medicine. The program will cover transportation costs, lodging and food expenses. Stephens will also receive a $3,000 stipend.
The initiative recruits undergraduate juniors and seniors from historically black colleges and universities who are interested in exploring evolutionary medicine topics.
“I knew that the deadline had passed for this summer, but I contacted Dr. Pamela Yeh, the director of the UCLA program, and asked that an ASU student be considered for the next session. I was delighted when she told me there was one slot still available for the summer,” said Florence Lyons, ASU associate professor of Speech and coordinator of the Speech and Theatre division. Lyons realized it would be a great opportunity for an ASU student. The partnership allows Lyons to recommend a student for the “Evolutionary Medicine: Pathways to PhDs” program each year.
As a result of Stephens’ participation, she has the opportunity to receive free tuition to pursue a master’s degree or doctoral degree at any of the 10 University of California (UC) institutions, provided she meets all of the requirements for acceptance into the graduate program.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Victoria, and I am grateful that UCLA’s Evolutionary Medicine Program will continue to partner with ASU in the future so that additional ASU students can benefit from the program,” Lyons said.