Five UGA Ph.D. students have been recently named 2022 ARCS Scholars. Jana Carpenter, Colleen Sedney and Matthew Treaster will each receive $7,500 a year. Reagan Haney and Mariah Salcedo, selected as Herz Global Scholars, will receive $10,000. Scholars receive up to three years of support to excel as doctoral students.
This year’s awards came with a special honor, as UGA hosted the 30th annual ARCS Awards Ceremony on November 17th. At the event, the scholars were able to meet donors and ARCS leadership, as well as connect with other scholars from across the state. UGA President Jere Morehead addressed the crowd about the important role that ARCS has played since its partnership with the University began in 2001.
“ARCS has sponsored 120 graduate students at UGA with over $1.6 million in unrestricted awards,” Morehead said. “When you multiply that figure by the number of scientific contributions each of those students will make over the course of their careers, the impact is incredible.”
This year was no exception, with each of UGA’s five new scholars embodying the ARCS Foundation’s mission of creating new knowledge and developing innovative technology.
Carpenter, a third-year Ph.D. student in bioanalytical chemistry, is exploring the relationship between bacterial metabolism and antibiotic resistance. Her goal is to determine phenotypes of resistance in antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of germ that up to 30% of people carry in their noses, which will advance understanding of these pathogens and predict outcomes in drug therapies.
“My immediate reaction to being named an ARCS Scholar was just overcome with joy,” Carpenter said. “I was just really glad to know that what I do is important, and that I get to be a part of a community of other scholars who make research like this a priority.”
Haney, a third-year Ph.D. student in biochemistry and molecular biology, is working to discover the mechanism of action in a new antimalarial drug, as well as identifying and validating the molecular targets of this novel therapeutic. Her experience as an undergraduate malaria researcher helped her solidify an interest in parasitology.
“At the end of my Ph.D. I want to be versed enough in parasitology, infectious disease research and drug discovery development to be able to advance my career, which the ARCS Fellowship is really helping me to do,” Haney said.
Salcedo, a second-year Ph.D. student in biochemistry and molecular biology, is researching neurogenerative disease and computational biology, especially as it relates to Parkinson’s disease. As a first-generation college student from a low-income family, being named an ARCS Scholar held a special significance for Salcedo.
“ARCS has actually made an insane difference in my life,” Salcedo said. “With this money I am able to better support myself and my family, which reduces a lot of mental stress. Even in the face of several recent challenges, I was able to still focus on work.”
Sedney, a third-year Ph.D. student in infectious diseases, is studying host-pathogen interactions between infants and the bacteria responsible for whooping cough. Her research is motivated by the fact that there is currently not a strong model for looking at this disease specifically in infants, despite the fact that the disease primarily affects young children.
“I was ecstatic to be named an ARCS Scholar,” Sedney said. “It will definitely help financially, but it’s already started to help me in gaining collaborations. I expect it will strengthen existing connections and, I’m sure, help me establish new ones as well.”
Treaster, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in genetics, is analyzing the evolution of sex chromosomes and genetic sex determination using three-spine stickleback fish. He shared that, while the ARCS application process proved somewhat challenging, it helped him to become a better communicator and explain his work to people beyond the field.
“It feels awesome to receive the award,” Treaster said, “It’s really encouraging to be recognized for my accomplishments, and to know that there are people out there who think the research I’m doing is compelling, impressive and worthy of support.”
The ARCS Foundation is a nationally recognized nonprofit started and run entirely by women. To address the country’s need for new scientists and engineers, the foundation provides unrestricted funding to help the country’s brightest Ph.D. students create new knowledge and innovative technologies. ARCS Scholars are selected annually by qualifying departments of science, engineering and medical research within ARCS’ 51 academic partner universities and colleges.