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Emma Mullen Receives ESPRIT Scholarship

Biochemistry major Emma Mullen is one of four undergraduate science majors awarded a 2019 University of Oregon ESPRIT Scholarship (Experiencing Science Practices through Research to Inspire Teaching).  The UO ESPRIT Scholarships Program is funded by the National Science Foundation through the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Recipients each receive $35,000 in support that includes a two-year scholarship for their senior undergraduate year and the UOTeach Program, a highly focused one-year master’s level teacher licensure program designed to produce highly qualified teachers with advanced instructional and classroom expertise. The ESPRIT Scholarships Program is a collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education involving STEM CORE, the Center for STEM Careers through Outreach, Research, and Education, and the Department of Education Studies.

Photo: Emma LLNL Poster Session

Emma presenting her research from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Now in her senior year, Emma says she has always been interested in teaching. In high school, she found herself in the role of informal tutor for a group of classmates, and enjoyed being a part of the “ah-ha!” moment when one of her peers grasped a tricky concept that had eluded them. As a SuperChem Peer Learning Assistant at the UO, Emma continues to build her skills as an educator.

Emma took her first step on the ESPRIT pathway by participating in an ESPRIT-sponsored summer research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California this past summer. During her eight weeks in the Biosciences & Biotechnology Division, she worked on optimizing the crystallization of nanolipoprotein particles (NLPs).This furthered the development of NLPs as a platform for vaccine delivery and for x-ray crystallographic characterization of membrane proteins.

Once she had completed her summer research experience, Emma became eligible to apply for the ESPRIT Scholarship to the UOTeach Program and was selected for the award. Her acceptance was celebrated during a signing ceremony for the ESPRIT recipients at the College of Education on Thursday, November 21st. Prof. Michael Pluth, in whose lab Emma is currently doing undergraduate research, presented her award.

2019 ESPRIT Signing Ceremony at the UO College of Education

Emma plans to pursue the Secondary Education track in her master’s studies, in preparation to teach high school chemistry. She appreciates the opportunity teaching provides to share a subject that she is passionate about.  Learning how things work at a fundamental, nittty-gritty level has always fascinated her and, she explains, “Chemistry does that.  It changes the way you look at things when you begin to think about the world around you on a molecular level. I’m excited to share that.”

After graduating from UOTeach, ESPRIT Scholars go on to teach in a high-need school district for four years. This could take Emma anywhere in Oregon, but she hopes to eventually end up somewhere near her hometown of Portland.

 

– by Leah O’Brien

 

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