Five Loyola alumnae win NSF awards
Much like her research, Kaitlyn Lovato (BS ’16) is proof that determination and persistence are the keys to success.
A 2016 McNair Scholar at Loyola and now a first-year graduate student at Rice University in Houston, Lovato is working to develop chemical technology that could revolutionize the drug development industry.
Lovato is one of five Loyola alumni to receive a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The award provides a $34,000 yearly stipend and tuition allowance to students who pursue research-based master’s or doctorate degrees at accredited institutions in the United States.
“I’m kind of the person who needs to define things,” she said. “I just wasn’t going to go into undergrad without a major. I knew that I liked chemistry in high school, and surprisingly it worked out well.”
She found her passion at Loyola while working on an antibiotic project in the chemistry lab of Daniel Becker, PhD. After learning about bacteria resistance and different ways to combat it, she decided that she wanted to pursue medicinal chemistry.
Right now, Lovato and her team at Rice University hope to discover new methods of synthesizing biaryl compounds—such as antibiotics and even anti-cancers. Specifically, she said, they’ve found a compound with antibiotic activity; this discovery could help fight antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
After graduation, Lovato says she is planning to pursue a career in drug development and to work on finding ways to defeat these drug-resistant strains.
Though this is only her second semester of research in graduate school, Lovato has found that when it comes to success, nothing is guaranteed. For each negative result, she gets one step closer to a positive one.
“In research or in life, you may think you’ve failed but that’s not the end of that path,” she said. “Stay motivated because success will come in the end.”
The other 2017 fellowship recipients are:
Emma Zajdela (’16), mathematics and theoretical physics, pursuing a doctorate in decision-making and risk analysis. “My research will look at successful scientific collaborations in the Middle East, often referred to as science diplomacy, and use game theory to identify and model factors that contribute to their success."
Kema Malki (’15), molecular biology, pursuing a doctorate in microbial biology at the University of South Florida. “I am currently characterizing the bacterial and viral communities within some of Florida’s freshwater springs and am interested in learning not only about what the present communities look like but how they change in response to anthropogenic impacts.”
Sarah Naiman (’14), environmental science, pursuing a master of science in environmental communications at Cornell University. “The research will investigate the presence and influence of misperceived norms on Latino environmental behaviors. I then plan to explore the ways in which normative messaging can correct a misperceived norm and promote environmental behavior among Latinos.”
Megan Baumann (’08), sociology and history, pursuing a doctorate in geography at Penn State. “My field research in 2016 and 2017 was/is funded by Bioversity International, an agricultural research-for-development institution working on the tricot approach, a structure in which farmers trial various dry bean varieties that may be well-suited for the climatic conditions in their regions. As I move from my master's degree into doctoral research, my research will investigate farmers' local knowledge of their landscapes related to their management of seeds.”
Honorable mention: Marie Turano (’16), chemistry and biochemistry, is in the first-year of her PhD program at Loyola University Chicago, working with Dan Killelea, PhD. “I’m investigating how the chemical and physical properties of metal surfaces are affected by high concentrations of oxygen atoms absorbed on the surface and into the topmost portion of the bulk solid.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you are interested in applying for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship or other esteemed scholarships and fellowships, please contact Lisa Knepshield and Jim Calcagno, PhD, at the Fellowship Office: LUC.edu/fellowshipoffice.