MELANIE SMITH '06 WINS FULBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIP
Melanie Smith '06, a biology major with a biochemistry concentration from Seattle, won one of four Fulbright Scholarships received by Haverford graduates this year. It's a full scholarship, which means she'll be funded for 10 months, without the teaching obligation that some winners have. She'll be researching at the University of Lund in Sweden, "just across from Copenhagen," Smith laughs. "I'll have some time to see a little of Europe."
While here, Smith worked largely with Associate Professor of Biology Rob Fairman in the biology department, researching protein folding and misfolding in the brainâ€”neurogenerative disorders in which cell cycles go wrong and protein "misfolding" occurs. It's a process not unlike Alzheimer's Disease, where unnecessary "laps" or layers of cellular matter produce irregularly convoluted matter that interfere with normal mental processes. New shapes are formed that serve as "blocks." By using resonance imaging, Smith and Fairman are able to study the process as it occurs, searching for ways to interfere with the misfolding process. Current drug therapies work on a hit or miss basis, but close study of the disorder may show ways to break the "misfolding" process directly and stop the cycle. Metal ions are involved.
Smith said that as anyone can, she applied for her Fulbright last October, through Associate Dean of the College and Director of Academic Resources Philip A. Bean, who recognized her outstanding academic record and passed her on to U.S. selectors. They in turn contacted the University of Lund, and she was accepted on the full scholarship. One of her collaborators in Sweden will be the well-known chemistry researcher and Associate Professor of Chesmistry Karin Ã…kerfeldt.
"What did I think of my years at Haverford?" Ms. Smith smiled. "I loved it in so many ways. The quality of academics here is just great."
â€” John Lombardi