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Friday, September 18, 2009

UNCP graduate wins national recognition for research

Rhonda McClure, a 2009 UNC Pembroke graduate, won first place for her research on AIDS at a National Institute of Health (NIH) student poster contest.

Rhonda McClureA summer intern at NIH’s National Institute for the Aging, McClure competed with 50 other student projects. Her research was titled “Effect of Multiple B-Cell Stimulators on Class Switch Recombination and AIDS Expression.”

“This is a tremendous achievement and reflects Rhonda’s enthusiasm and ability to grasp the subject matter,” said Patricia Gearhart, who supervises the internship program for the NIH. “Rhonda is serious about performing research and extremely self-motivated.”

For her work, McClure won a year-long NIH Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship Internship Award for 2009 - 10.

“We are both excited about this, and it will enable her to be better prepared to apply to graduate school,” Gearhart continued.

A Red Springs, N.C., native and biology major at UNCP, McClure participated in the University’s RISE program, or Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement. The program pairs promising students with professors for research experiences, said Sally Vallabha, RISE co-coordinator.

“Rhonda’s interest in research caught fire while she was in the RISE program,” Vallabha said. “The program offers opportunities for undergraduates to explore or find new interests.

“It is a real honor to be accepted into the year-long internship,” she said. “She hopes to go to an outstanding graduate school.”

Rhonda worked closely in the RISE program with Dr. Meredith Storms and Dr. Liberty Carroll.

“The program was very helpful and my (NIH) mentor said I was the most hands-on summer student she had ever had and that I seemed very comfortable in the lab, which I attribute to the many labs I had to take as classes and also my extensive time in the lab while in RISE,” McClure said.

McClure is aiming high for the future and hopes to earn both a Ph.D. and M.D.

“My dream job is to be a research scientist and to do research and clinical work,” she said.

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