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NINDS's Summer Program Marks 19th Year

By Shannon E. Garnett

Marking the 19th anniversary of the Summer Program in the Neurological Sciences, NINDS recently honored 13 outstanding summer student scientists at its annual student awards ceremony on Aug. 6.

"The summer research program is one of the most important things the institute does," said NINDS director Dr. Story Landis, in opening remarks. "The mission of NINDS is to reduce the burden of neurological disease — a burden borne by every age group, every segment of society and people all over the world. So it's critical that we engage the very best students in the country to join us in trying to fulfill our mission."

Three students were selected this year to receive the first-ever Levon O. Parker Scholarships. The scholarships honor Parker, who founded the summer program and "fathered" it until his retirement early this year. NINDS created the scholarship to thank him and to continue his legacy of promoting students in neuroscience.

NINDS director Dr. Story Landis (r), Levon Parker (second from r) and Dr. Charlotte Sumner congratulate scholarship recipient Nathaniel Woodling.

Scholarship recipients are Anna Lonyai, a junior from Harvard University majoring in neurobiology; James Pendleton, a Morehouse College senior, majoring in neuroscience; and Nathaniel Woodling, a senior from Emory University, with a double major in biology and neuroscience.

The institute also presented 10 Exceptional Student Awards. "This award not only recognizes the students' research accomplishments, but it also honors students who shine in the lab," said Rose Wright, acting director of the summer program. "These students go the extra mile. Their attitude and thirst for knowledge set them apart."

This year's exceptional students are Jillian Brauth, Thomas S. Wootton High School; Brandon Devers, Princeton University; Risa Gordon, Rice University; Nathaniel Hibbs, Western University of Health Sciences; Jennifer Jothen, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; Laurel Lee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Christopher Lewis, University of New Mexico; Jasmine Samuel, University of Houston; Christopher Urban, Pennsylvania State University; and Rachel Wurzman, Smith College.

Through the years, the summer program has offered hands-on research experience to hundreds of high school, undergraduate, graduate and medical school students. This year, NINDS sponsored 63 students in the program — 50 of whom presented posters of their research projects to the NIH community at NIH's annual Poster Day on Aug. 5.

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