UHV biology student receives two summer fellowships

Morgen Glenn, a University of Houston-Victoria senior biology and pre-med student, looks at cells being grown in a laboratory at UHV. Glenn recently was chosen as a research fellow for the Laney Graduate School Summer Opportunity for Academic Research at Emory University in Atlanta, and as an intern for the American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research Internship at the Winship Cancer Institute, also at Emory University.

Toward the end of 2021, Morgen Glenn sent out applications for several summer fellowships and internships and hoped for the best. What the University of Houston-Victoria student didn’t expect was to receive two offers.

Glenn, a UHV senior biology and pre-med student, was chosen as a research fellow for the Laney Graduate School Summer Opportunity for Academic Research at Emory University in Atlanta, and as an intern for the American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research Internship at the Winship Cancer Institute, also at Emory University.

“I was feeling so anxious when I sent out my applications, and now I am feeling very proud of myself,” Glenn said. “I feel like all my hard work paid off.”

Glenn is spending 10 weeks this summer in both the fellowship and internship. The fellowship program hosts potential Laney Graduate School students who want to explore, experience and conduct full-time independent and mentored research for the summer. Students in the program participate in research mentored by Emory faculty and prepare for graduate school. For the program, Glenn is working under Dr. Edjah K. Nduom, an associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research Internship program provides career and professional development for college upperclassmen who are interested in cancer biology and who come from historically underrepresented ethnic and racial backgrounds. The internship is aligned with the Summer Opportunity for Academic Research fellowship program.

The programs started at the end of May, and so far the experience has been interesting, she said. In the program, Glenn is working on a research project on glioblastoma brain tumors. In the research laboratory, she is also collaborating with graduate students, medical students, post-doctoral students and residents. Glenn will have to present the research at the end of both programs.

Although Glenn is collaborating with other students, there also is a lot more independence in the research, she said. Students must create their own schedule and push to meet with their mentor, rather than having someone create those schedules for them.

“This is new territory for me, so I am reading research papers my mentors have given me and I am learning everything I can in the lab,” she said. “Everyone is so helpful, so I am trying to find the balance of learning what I can and asking the other students questions.”

Humberto Hernandez

At UHV, Glenn works on research under Humberto Hernandez, an assistant professor of biology in the UHV College of Natural & Applied Science. Glenn’s research at UHV is on investigating novel therapeutic targets for primary open-angle glaucoma, a progressive condition that can cause vision loss if left untreated. She began working on this research last fall and presented her research during the spring semester at Research Appreciation Day, an event for UHV biology seniors to present and share research with biology students and faculty. Glenn plans to submit her research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Scientists in Anaheim, California in November.

“This research is very close to me because my mother and some of my other family members have glaucoma,” she said. “Doing research on something like this is a reminder of how important medical research is for our communities.”

Since working in the UHV research laboratory in the fall, Glenn has made much progress in her research and as a student, Hernandez said. Students in the UHV biology program can get research experience early in their undergraduate to help students receive important research experience that will help them prepare for graduate school, future careers and for fellowships, Hernandez said.

“Morgen is a very motivated student who has flourished in the laboratory,” Hernandez said. “She is very passionate about her research and is a studious and dedicated student. Morgen also collaborates well with other students and is always available to help them with their research. I am very excited for her and extremely proud of her achievements. She will be working with world-renowned scientists and this experience will open more opportunities for her graduate education and medical school. Her admission into these prestigious programs shows how hard she has been working.”

Glenn enjoys research and plans to do an M.D.-Ph.D. program in medical school so that she can learn more about both patient care and biomedical research. She is glad she had opportunities at UHV to work in a research lab as it helped prepare her for the fellowships. In addition to working in a lab, Glenn also worked in the UHV COVID-19 Operations Center for more than a year, where she kept up with the number of COVID-19 cases on campus and inventory.

She thanks Hashimul Ehsan, a UHV assistant professor of biology, and Jessica Helms, a nurse practitioner and former coordinator of the UHV COVID-19 Operations Center, for their help in the application process. She also thanks her fellow UHV biology majors Jose Ramirez and Thanh Le for their help in the UHV research lab, and Hernandez for giving her the opportunity to do research with him in the lab.

For other students in the program and prospective UHV students, Glenn recommends speaking with faculty about internships and fellowship programs and applying to as many as possible.

“Get to know your professors and ask around – if I hadn’t done that, I would not have known about these opportunities,” she said. “I am looking forward to learning all I can in these programs.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco