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Undergraduate research student wins prestigious internship

Loyola press release - October 8, 2007

(New Orleans)— Loyola University New Orleans 2007 graduate and biology undergraduate research participant Kelsey Eliasson has just won a highly selective, prestigious internship with the National Institute of Health (NIH). The post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellowship is designed to provide an opportunity to spend a year doing biomedical research in the resource-rich environment of the NIH to those who intend to continue their studies in graduate or medical school in the sciences or medicine.

Loyola students are competitive for positions in internships like the IRTA because of the experience and quality of original undergraduate research that takes place at Loyola. Like many of the research training programs at the NIH, the post-baccalaureate IRTA program is highly selective. Over the past year, less than 10 percent of applicants were selected for the program.

Eliasson, psychology/pre-med major with a biology minor, was involved in a research project at the LSU Children's Hospital Research Institute under Michael Ferris, Ph.D. She utilized cultivation-independent methods to identify possible toxic mold species in drywall samples from a home flooded by the levee failures. While there, she gained experience in the technique of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) of bacterial samples. Her research and results were presented at the Loyola University Department of Biology undergraduate research symposium, held every spring for the Department of Biological Sciences.

Eliasson now works under Joel Moss, M.D., Ph.D., and Martha Vaughn, M.D. Over the year of her internship, she will be involved in planning an independent project that corresponds with Moss’s work with cystic fibrosis, Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), and ADP-ribosylation factors. Eliasson will also be applying for Ph.D. programs in microbiology and immunology.

Patricia Dorn, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, Eliasson’s honors adviser at Loyola, aided Eliasson in obtaining both the research position at Children's Hospital and the NIH internship. Eliasson also engaged in research with Maureen Shuh, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, in the spring of her freshman year. “I am very grateful to both these women for all their help in my undergraduate career,” said Eliasson.

For more information on undergraduate research at Loyola, please contact Patricia Dorn at (504) 865-3672 or dorn@loyno.edu