Senior UHV biology major enlists in battle against cancer

Mary Adkins

There are about 220 types of known cancer affecting millions of people worldwide. But if University of Houston-Victoria senior Mary Adkins has her way, science soon will better combat the disease.

The biology major focuses much of her time on cancer research at the University of Houston System at Sugar Land, where UHV offers many of the programs.

Adkins, 23, grew up in the Houston area and said science always intrigued her. Upon entering college, however, she decided to major in business. The idea to switch to biology came after she witnessed a surgery firsthand.

“Also, I had cancer touch my family,” Adkins said. “In 2008, my grandpa died of esophageal cancer. It’s something I’ve been very conscious of growing up. That’s how I ended up where I am.”

Adkins enjoys her studies and thinks she has a chance to make a difference. Her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Katy resident recently was selected to participate in Texas Undergraduate Research Day Feb. 14 at the state Capitol, where students presented their research projects to legislators and other officials in Austin.

Her project centered on the effects that high amounts of limonin, a chemical found in lemons, grapefruits and other citrus fruits, have on chemotherapy treatments.

“We found that it actually helps in the treatment,” Adkins explained. “It does not inhibit the chemotherapy.”

The chance to present her findings in Austin was exciting, she said.

“It was amazing to be around peers who have the same interests,” she said. “This was a big opportunity.”

In her free time, what little there is, Adkins enjoys working puzzles, doing yoga, reading and watching movies. She also spends time with family and friends.

“I’m pretty busy most of the time with school,” she said. “I’m taking seven classes. But I love that, too.”

Looking ahead, Adkins plans to graduate and obtain a research position. Then, in the fall, she hopes to enter a UHV master’s program, where she will study biomedical sciences.

The courses are at night, she explained, so she plans to work full time during the day.

“It will be busy, but I’m excited,” she said, joking that she will try to find time for sleep. “It’s what I love doing.”

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler or call 361-570-4350.

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.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342