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Two College of Science students receive nominations for prestigious fellowships

Both Lola Akingbade and Amina Ly’s career passions straddle the line between science and policy.

With a background in neuroscience and dedication towards social and racial justice, Akingbade has spent much of her time at Northeastern working in the pediatric department at Boston Medical Center, helping to provide better waiting room service and understanding patient access to healthcare, as well as volunteering with social justice organizations on campus such as the Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID). Her current co-op is at Acceleron Pharmaceuticals, studying neuromuscular and anemia drugs for clinical trial. She’s enjoyed being able to research different diseases, and having the opportunity to work on some of the involved clinical operations.

Ly has had extensive research experience in environmental science. She’s worked on energy efficiency initiatives in developing countries, and currently works with Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Auroop Ganguly studying precipitation extremes and infrastructure stability in Brazil. Ly also spends many hours a week as a team leader for the DREAM Program service research project, where she mentors children in Roxbury, MA. The DREAM Program’s goal is to help participating youth feel empowered to lead fulfilling lives, which happens with the help of partnering university mentors, like Ly.

While their goals may be very different, both fifth-year College of Science students have earned prestigious nominations for the Knight-Hennessy and the Rhodes Scholarships.

The Knight Hennessy Scholars program provides students from around the world funding for a full course of study at Stanford University. They look for students interested in leadership and problem-solving for complex global issues. The Rhodes Scholarship is another distinguished fellowship providing devoted, outgoing, and well-rounded students from around the world, the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford. Just to be nominated for awards like these speaks highly to both Akingbade and Ly’s drive and success in their careers thus far.

Akingbade hopes to focus on medicine from an urban health perspective as a Knight Hennessy Scholar. She aims to pursue an MD from Stanford, which would allow her to study cross-disciplinary subjects, such as bioethics and medical humanities, while maintaining her passions in civic engagement and leadership. As a Rhodes Scholar, she would study medical anthropology – formally being able to focus on the history of medicine, health justice movements, and the differences in western medicine and healing practice in the global south. Eventually, she dreams of becoming a primary care physician while simultaneously being able to research urban health access and medicine among African American populations.

“Medical ethics is the culmination of my different interests in social justice and the sciences,” Akingbade said. “As I read more on past injustices in therapeutic research, I hope to use a fellowship to supplement the clinical scholarship I would gain in my future path. Both opportunities are extremely exciting ways to bridge gaps between science and the public.”

Also interested in applying her research and skillset to the larger public, Ly applied to both of these fellowships with the intention of studying environmental studies from an interdisciplinary approach. This would use her current knowledge of earth system modeling and energy sources to apply technological solutions in a policy perspective. She sees her future at a non-profit foundation or national lab to allow her to study environmental issues and impact the policies that can fix them.

Akingbade and Ly are preparing to graduate this spring, and are both thankful for the research experiences, co-op opportunities, faculty connections, and extra-curricular passions they’ve been able to count on for their past five years in the College of Science.

“One thing I’ve gotten out of Northeastern is the access to research and faculty, which has driven a lot of what I’ve been able to do. I don’t think I’d be where I’m at without my faculty mentors that I’ve had,” Ly said. “At such a research-driven school, to be able to create that network for myself the summer after my freshman year, it made all the difference in the world.”

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