Rianne Stowell ’13 has been selected for a Fulbright U.S. Student award for 2013-2014 to Spain. She will graduate next week with dual degrees, a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. In just a few short months, she will put both to the test when she boards a plane headed for Seville, Spain, where she will spend nine months conducting research in the University of Seville’s Department of Pharmacology.
This will be Stowell’s second stay at the University of Seville. She studied and did an internship there for a semester as part of Moravian’s study abroad program through the foreign language department. “I decided to talk to the lab that I worked in while I was abroad to see if they were willing to have me back for a different project using a Fulbright grant,” Stowell said. “With my strong foundation in both areas, I had the confidence to pursue an internship while studying abroad and this internship led me down the path of applying for a Fulbright.”
Stowell will be working with a mouse strain that has been genetically modified to lack a certain type of immune cell. “I will induce autoimmune encephalitis in the mice (this is the mouse version of multiple sclerosis) so that I can study the effect of removing the immune cells,” she explained. “This type of work is central in elucidating the mechanisms by which autoimmune diseases, such as MS, progress. This neuroscience research will help me further my understanding of the field and get more experience as a researcher before I start graduate school at the University of Rochester in 2014.
“Moravian inspired me to pursue this path by giving me the flexibility to double major,” Stowell explained. “I have always loved Spanish and having amazing professors who were willing to help me work the major around my science courses was vital to my success. The intellectual challenge provided by my two majors has driven me to be more of a scholar and consider the breadth of possibilities available to someone with a diverse skill set.”
Stowell decided to apply for a Fulbright last summer while she was at the University of Washington as an Amgen Scholar doing neuroscience research. “The program offered classes with career advice in addition to the lab experience we were getting, and I decided that I wanted to do research outside of the country for a year if possible,” she noted.
The Fulbright award is a perfect way for Stowell to continue working on both her main interests, and majors, neuroscience and Spanish. After the Fulbright is complete, she will attend the University of Rochester to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience. “I hope that the Fulbright will lead to further scientific collaborations abroad during my career as a neuroscientist,” she added.
“From the moment I met Rianne, I knew she would be the type of neuroscience major who would not only embrace this scientific discipline, but also weave it throughout her studies in the humanities and social sciences,” said Cecilia M. Fox, associate professor of biological sciences, and director of the neuroscience program at Moravian College. “As a double major in neuroscience and Spanish, Rianne is a wonderful scholar who understands the value of scientific discovery and its place in a world full of art, music, world culture and literature. As her neuroscience professor and her Honors mentor, I am confident she will continue to make some very meaningful contributions in the disciplines of neuroscience and foreign languages in the years to come.”
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