Emily Stephenson ’15 one of 10 students worldwide chosen for prestigious biomedical internship

Posted by Centre News in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, French, Internships, News 19 Aug 2014

As Kentucky’s only independent school with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, an impressive record of Rhodes, Fulbright and Rotary winners, and a history of graduates landing jobs and fellowships abroad, Centre College consistently produces world-class scholars. Continuing this tradition of internationally recognized accomplishment is rising senior Emily Stephenson, who is one of 10 students worldwide chosen to participate in summer research at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC) in Strasbourg, France.

IGBMC is a world-renowned research institute famous for the many advancements its scientists have made in the biomedical and genetics fields. The institute recently launched its first-ever International Summer Internship Program, in which select students from across the globe work alongside researchers on projects in the areas of neuroscience, biochemistry, structural biology and more. The 10 interns participating in the debut program hail from England, Mexico, Greece and Italy, with only one other American in addition to Stephenson, a student from Columbia University in New York.

Stephenson is certainly in good company with the other interns, among the best and brightest up-and-coming scientists.Stephenson Internship 2

“I think being surrounded by such ambitious and intelligent students has caused me to strive to push myself even harder and realize how lucky I am to have had the experiences I have had so far,” she says.

Stephenson has also been working with Dr. Nicolas Charlet-Berguerand, investigating the genetic basis of myotonic dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy that progressively deteriorates the muscles. IGBMC has been responsible for advances in research related to rare genetic diseases such as myotonic dystrophy as well as cancer pathologies.

Stephenson first learned of the internship through Dr. Jeffrey Fieberg, associate professor of chemistry and director of the 2013-14 Centre-in-Strasbourg program. Fieberg brought his family with him to France and through a friend of his eldest daughter he became acquainted with several researchers at IGBMC.

“This program is an absolute perfect fit for Emily,” says Fieberg, who taught Stephenson when she studied abroad with him last fall. “There are very few institutions where she could get the level of science she is getting at IGBMC. She’s on the cutting edge of genetics and biomedical research.”

According to Fieberg, Stephenson was a standout student in his classes, and he is sure that she has what it takes to succeed in such a prestigious and competitive program.

“She was at the top of my classes,” he explains. “She’s a very mature student and has the desire to learn.”

As a French major with minors in biology and chemistry, Stephenson is cultivating all of her interests at IGBMC, from her passion for science to her proficiency in the French language. The internship is also phenomenal preparation for attaining her future goals.

“I hope to go into medicine, specifically pediatric oncology,” she says.

by Caitlan Cole

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