Inaugural Huck Fellowships awarded

In honor of Lloyd Huck, the Huck Fellowships have been awarded to exceptional young scientist-scholars.

This year marks the inaugural awarding of the J. Lloyd Huck Fellowship to four promising young students – Megan Kepler, Lucilla Pizzo Suarez, Sam Jones and Zhi Chai – who will arrive at University Park in the fall of 2013.

Named in honor of Lloyd Huck, Penn State alumnus and philanthropist, the fellowship is made possible by his generous commitment to Penn State and the life sciences through the endowment and formation of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.

In keeping with Huck's vision of the Huck Institutes – fostering potential in the work of distinguished students and faculty – the Huck Fellowship is awarded competitively to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional academic achievement.

"We're so thrilled with the quality of these students,” said Peter Hudson, director of the Huck Institutes, “and obviously we're also thrilled to have this opportunity to reward them for their academic excellence. Lloyd Huck's vision for graduate education was to promote and reward excellence in academics integrated with interdisciplinary research, and I believe these fellowships and the outstanding nature of the inaugural recipients are something that Lloyd would certainly have endorsed."

The Inaugural Huck Fellows:

Megan Kepler is a master's degree student in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State, studying comparative lake trout bioenergetics. As a doctoral student in the Huck Institutes' Ecology program, Kepler will be studying disease and contaminant dynamics in wild fish populations, with a specific focus on disease in small-mouth bass.

“I am honored to be a Huck Fellowship recipient,” Kepler said. “Receiving this fellowship has opened up new avenues of research for me that otherwise would not have been feasible, and will allow me to explore additional topics and areas of study that will enhance the overall contribution of my work to the field of ecology.”

"Megan has shown herself to be the kind of motivated, disciplined and bright student we want at Penn State – having co-authored two publications and about to submit a first-authored third publication in the course of her Masters degree," said David Eissenstat, chair of the ecology program. "The Huck Fellowship will be an invaluable help to Megan in pursuing her doctoral degree and research."

Lucilla Pizzo Suarez received her bachelor of science in biochemistry in 2009 from the Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay, and will receive a master of science in cell and molecular biology from the same institution this spring. As a doctoral student in the Huck Institutes' Molecular Medicine program, Pizzo Suarez will study mental and behavioral disorders.

“Being supported in our studies and research is vital to our success, and being awarded a Huck Fellowship means our work has been recognized by the academic community, by renowned professors and researchers,” said Pizzo Suarez. “It is gratifying to know that our accomplishments and love for our chosen fields can be evidenced, and also that these things are acknowledged and promoted. I feel I have been given a vote of confidence by the Huck Institutes and the University, and this inspires me to work even harder.”

"I am very excited that we were able to recruit Ms. Suarez. She is an exceptional young scientist who was not only awarded a Huck Fellowship, but applied to our program with a 2-year Fulbright Fellowship in hand," said Adam Glick, chair of the molecular medicine program. "Lucilla stands out in her maturity and depth of knowledge in medical genetics, her interests in bringing together basic and clinical science, and her outstanding research experience in the genetic basis of complex neurodegenerative diseases. She is an outstanding addition to the Molecular Medicine program and I believe she will make a significant contribution to the life sciences here at Penn State."

Sam Jones is currently a lab technician with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, working on genetic improvement of fruits and vegetables. As a doctoral student in the Huck Institutes' Plant Biology program, Jones will study plant parasitism with the goal of alleviating its potentially devastating agricultural, ecological, and economic costs.“The atmosphere created by the Huck Institutes fosters the creativity and collaboration required for innovative research,” said Jones, “and the Huck Fellowship further promotes this idea, providing a foundation of good-will and confidence from which to launch a prosperous career. I have no doubt that the support of this Huck Fellowship will help to turn my ambitions into reality.”

"Mr. Jones has a wealth of research experience that began when he was an undergraduate studying the molecular biology of plant heat stress," said Teh-hui Kao, chair of the Plant Biology program. "As a masters student, Sam's research focused on the evolution of grasses, and he became well versed with bioinformatics tools. In his current research position at the USDA, Sam is learning functional genomics, so he will arrive at our program with all of the skills needed to 'hit the ground running'."

Zhi Chai is an undergraduate student at Zhejiang University in China and will graduate this month with a degree in animal sciences. During his time at Zhejiang University, Chai was the recipient of an undergraduate research funding award from the Ministry of Education, and in 2012 he completed a summer research program focused on molecular animal nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a doctoral student in the Huck Institutes' Physiology program, Chai plans to explore nutritional physiology.

“I truly appreciate receiving this Huck Fellowship, which will enable me to further my education in an intercollege program,” said Chai. “This is a fantastic opportunity that will allow me to explore my specific research interests and strengths, and I believe that the Huck Fellowship will be of key importance to my lifetime research career. This fellowship should certainly help to bring more creative young scientists to the Huck Institutes and Penn State.”

"We are very excited that Zhi Chai has accepted our offer of admission to the Physiology IGDP and was awarded a prestigious Huck Fellowship, " said Donna Korzick, chair of the Physiology program. "As the top-ranked student in his class, and having an excellent record of academic achievement, this young man is obviously very serious about his studies. With his academic and research credentials, I believe he will hit the ground running without limitation and will make a great addition to our program."

About Lloyd Huck

Lloyd Huck graduated from Penn State in 1943 with a degree in chemistry, and later served as a trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees and a president of that board.

Lloyd also was a member of the University's Grand Destiny Campaign steering committee, and he donated over $40 million to Penn State in support of teaching, research, and other academic activities in the Huck Institutes and across the University.

In recognition of Lloyd's and his wife Dottie's leadership and generosity in support of the life sciences at Penn State, the Life Science Consortium was renamed in 2002 as the Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Institute for Life Sciences; as it continued to grow, the Institute became the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, as it is known today.

In 2007, the Hucks made an additional $20 million commitment, and the Life Sciences Building was renamed the Huck Life Sciences Building in their honor in 2012.

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Last Updated May 14, 2013