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May 6, 2010

UW student receives UNCF/Merck Science Initiative Award

UW junior and Federal Way native Alexandra Herndon received the 2010 United Negro College Fund/Merck Science Initiative Award, an honor that includes up to $25,000 in scholarships, as well as the opportunity to take part in two summer research internships.

Herndon, a chemistry major and 2007 graduate of Todd Beamer High School, is one of just 15 undergraduates from across the country to receive the honor in 2010. The UNCF/Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Awards are intended to help African American undergraduate students interested in science to further their science education and potentially pursue a career in that field.

Award recipients are selected based on their grade-point average (which must be at least a 3.3), their demonstrated interest in their own scientific education and a career in scientific research, and their ability to perform in a laboratory environment. In addition to the scholarship, Herndon will be paired with a Merck mentor and participate in two different 10-12 week summer internships that will take place at a Merck research facility. The first internship will take place this summer, with the second to take place during summer, 2011.

“It’s a really awesome opportunity because I just got involved in research a couple years ago,” Herndon said. “The fact that I’m going to be able to go out and see what people do as research for a living and be exposed to this large company is a pretty amazing opportunity. As far as my future, I’m planning on going into MD/Ph.D. schooling so I think it’s going to open me up to more options for where I can take that.”

Herndon plans to focus on medicinal chemistry research in her Merck internships. Her interest in chemistry began in high school and she was first exposed to research due to her involvement in the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD). Last summer through IMSD, Herndon was connected to a position in an inorganic chemistry lab on the UW campus — the Goldberg Lab — where she will continue to work through June.

In addition to her regular class load and working at the lab, Herndon also makes time for volunteer efforts. She currently volunteers with the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies at the UW Medical Center and works with surgery simulations. Previously, she volunteered with the American Red Cross and has served as a student mentor for the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity since her sophomore year.