(Posted February 25, 2015)

Abigail Rosenberger
Abigail Rosenberger

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Abigail Rosenberger, a junior at Juniata College studying biology from Duncannon, Pa., was recently awarded an Exceptional Research Opportunities Program award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which will provide her with a summer research fellowship with a HHMI scientist in summer 2015.

Rosenberger, the daughter of Tracey and Daniel Rosenberger of Duncannon, is a 2012 graduate of Susquenita High School.

The Exceptional Research Opportunities Program, started by HHMI in 2003, selects motivated undergraduate researchers from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences or from disadvantaged backgrounds for outstanding summer research experiences that encourage them to pursue academic careers in science.

"At Juniata when you show interest in research and show you're dedicated to science, you are in a much more intimate setting," Rosenberger says. "The professors here are able to spend time with you. Our lab functions like a graduate lab in that we all have our own project in which we become a mini-expert in that project and make our own decisions. I think students here help professors just as much as professors help students. It's really cool when you get to the point where professors are learning from you as well."

In the coming weeks, Rosenberger will be matched with an HHMI scientist. HHMI scientists carry out cutting-edge research at universities, research institutes and medical centers throughout the United States.

"Our lab functions like a graduate lab in that we all have our own project in which we become a mini-expert in that project and make our own decisions."

Abigail Rosenberger, junior, Duncannon, Pa.

The award also provides transportation and housing costs, as well as a $5,000 stipend. Students who participate in the program also are eligible for HHMI Gilliam Fellowships if they choose to pursue graduate education.

Rosenberger has participated in Juniata's undergraduate research program since fall semester 2013. She works with Regina Lamendella, assistant professor of biology, on several projects, including a study on how bacteria in the digestive system of fish are related to mercury concentrations in the fish's organs and within the stream. Rosenberger also has worked on projects investigating how "fracking" in Marcellus Shale regions impacts headwater streams and sediments and how a large storm event impacted the microbial community of a small streambed.

The Juniata junior also has competed on Juniata's track and field team as a pole vaulter since her freshman year.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.