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Vidhi Patel, an undergraduate student who conducts research in the lab of Assistant Professor M.K. Sewell-Loftin, Ph.D., is a recipient of this year’s UAB Honors College Presidential Honors Fellowship.

“This scholarship allows me the opportunity to conduct research without the financial stress that comes with being a student researcher. I am very grateful for the opportunity to purse my passion of research.”

Patel is majoring in Biomedical Engineering, a joint department of the UAB School of Engineering and UAB Heersink School of Medicine. Patel plans to pursue her dreams of becoming either a physician scientist or full-time researcher.

Nick Reyes, an undergraduate student in the lab of BME Assistant Professor Juhi Samal, Ph.D., is also an Honors Fellowship recipient.

juhi reyes 2024“The Presidential Honors Fellowship (PHF) will allow me to contribute to the ongoing research on therapeutic interventions for stroke and ultimately, contribute to reducing the disability burden and improving patient outcomes in stroke. I am humbled by this fellowship's opportunity to focus on this research area,” says Reyes. “I will be working with Dr. Samal to develop and characterize immunomodulatory glycosylated biomaterials to tune the immune cells towards a pro-reparative phenotype and mitigate neuroinflammation in stroke.”

Reyes is majoring in Neuroscience in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences and is minoring in Biomedical Engineering and Neuroengineering. Reyes is a part of the Accelerated Bachelor/Master’s Program pursuing a master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Biomedical Sciences. He hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in the future with a research focus on biomaterials and neuroengineering.

The UAB Honors College Presidential Honors Fellowship (PHF) provides programming and funding for summer fellowships to promote undergraduate research, creative activity, and community engagement among honors students. Students propose scholarly activity that can take a variety of forms, including traditional research, visual or performing arts, or a service initiative with a non-profit partner. Research includes laboratory and non-laboratory work in the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and STEM fields. A UAB faculty mentor will supervise each student’s project, and students will present their fellowship work-product at the UAB Summer Expo. 

"Vidhi is an amazing young scientist and I'm so proud of her for being recognized with the PHF this summer,” says Sewell-Loftin. Her hard work has paid off; Vidhi is a co-author on a manuscript that has just been accepted for publication." 

Recipients dedicate at least 20 hours a week for a 10-week period to the successful completion of their project, and as part of the program will participate in a series of Honors workshops designed to develop their skills and advance their projects. They receive a fellowship award of $2,500, and faculty mentors receive $500 in professional support funds. 

“I am so proud of Samal Lab's star undergrad, Nick Reyes, for this well-deserved award!” says Samal. “Nick is an exceptional and dedicated researcher. His curiosity and knowledge about using biomaterial interventions for central nervous therapies and his willingness to learn new research skills are impressive. He is already on his way to publishing a co-authored review from my lab, which speaks to his research commitment and scientific acumen. I look forward to the exciting research he performs in my lab through the PHF fellowship!”

Read about the 2023 PHF fellows here.