Danielle Jacobsen '19 Wins Fulbright Research Award
The biology major from Sunnyvale, Calif., will spend next year at the University of Oslo in Norway, researching a toxic polypeptide associated with ALS and Frontotemporal Dementia in a cellular model.
Danielle Jacobsen ’19 is passionate about researching neurodegenerative diseases. The biology major’s senior thesis investigates if the addition of a chaperone protein from yeast can reduce toxicity and disease symptoms in a Drosophila model with ALS or Frontotemporal Dementia. Next year she hopes to build on that research in Norway thanks to a Fulbright U.S. Student Award that will fund her work in Anne Simonsen’s lab in the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Oslo.
“The opportunity to continue my research in a new country with access to different tools is incredibly exciting,” said Jacobsen, a neuroscience minor who is concentrating in biochemistry. “I value the kind of learning that can be achieved through travel and studying abroad, and the Fulbright will allow me to engage with a new culture and community. I’m interested in Norway in particular due to the hub of cutting-edge neurodegenerative research that takes place there.”
In Simonsen’s lab, she will investigate a different toxic polypeptide associated with ALS and Frontotemporal Dementia than her thesis does.
“My goal is to see if autophagy, a process cells use to selectively degrade damaged organelles and aggregated proteins, can successfully clear protein aggregates associated with these neurodegenerative diseases,” she says.
Jacobsen will be one of only 12 student-research Fulbright recipients in Norway next year. She hopes to live in student housing at the university, and plans to take courses there in both biochemistry and Norwegian history. (The latter is of particular interest due to her Norwegian ancestry.)
While at Haverford, Jacobsen served as a Customs Person, and Admission Fellow, a biology peer tutor, and a writing tutor in the Mentoring and Student Teaching (MAST) program. She also co-founded the Meditation and Mindfulness Club and volunteered at a local hospice, something she hopes to continue to be able to do while living in Oslo.
“I appreciate all of the experience and support I have received at Haverford that has prepared me to conduct this independent research project abroad,” she said.
After she returns stateside, she plans to apply to M.D./Ph.D dual-degree programs. But for now, she is looking forward to a year full of deep exploration—both of her research interests and her own heritage.
“Norway,” she said, “represents the perfect combination of scientific opportunity and cultural learning for me.”