Biological Sciences Senior, Mariela Zeledón, Awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
April 11, 2008
By: Lisa Pascoli
Mariela Zeledón, a senior Biological Sciences major from San José, Costa Rica, was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which will provide $90,000 toward her graduate education over a three-year period. Zeledón was chosen as one of 913 undergraduate seniors, first year graduate or second year graduate students to receive the prestigious award.
At Carnegie Mellon, Zeledón participated in undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Jones where she studied yeast genetics, specifically the unknown function of the PBN1 gene, through the creation of temperature-sensitive mutants. She also completed a research project in the Macaya lab in Costa Rica where she looked for common genetic risk factors found in those suffering from alcohol dependence or bipolar disorder. Crediting much of her fellowship application success to these research experiences, Zeledón plans to build upon her background in genetics by pursuing human genetics in graduate school next year.
Outside of the laboratory, Zeledón is completing an independent study in religious studies, a field she plans to receive a minor in. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting Hindi temples with friends, the Pittsburgh opera and participating in Holi, a CMU student organized event celebrating the Indian harvest season. During the event, participants engage in a color-powder fight to symbolize prosperity and hope. Zeledón is also excited for the upcoming Carnival activities where you will most likely find her whirling about on the spinning rides.
Overall, Zeledón is thankful for the professors who offer endless encouragement and advice, as well as the support system that CMU provides for minority students. Together, these factors aided in her adjustment to living in the United States and her development into a scientist.