Meci Speeds Ahead: Juniata Runner Earns Fulbright Fellowship to Research in France
(Posted April 16, 2019)
Huntingdon, Pa.—Andrew Meci, a Juniata College senior from Woodstock, N.Y., who studies biology and French, has recently earned a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in France for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Meci will work on epidemiological research at Réseau Sentinelles, an organization that works on providing clinical surveillance throughout France. He will lead a research project focusing on finding a way to provide surveillance on the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This virus is the most common cause of respiratory infections in children and elderly individuals. Meci describes his research as “developing an internationally accepted European protocol for the surveillance of respiratory syncytial virus.”
“This research has the potential to have massive impact,” Meci adds. “Currently, there is no reliable, real-time data on the prevalence of RSV. With a reliable protocol for its surveillance, data collected could be used to determine the true impact of the disease on the population, its economic impact, and the efficacy of future vaccines. If successful on the European scale, this protocol could also be presented to the World Health Organization and the American Centers for Disease Control for further use and, thus, better data for use by heath care policymakers.”
Thanks to the Fulbright Fellowship, Meci also plans on enrolling in the Masters of Public Health Program at the Sorbonne Université Faculty of Medicine to continue his health professions studies while conducting his research.
“My Fulbright grant will enable me to engage in an ambitious, impactful research project that will facilitate my growth as a researcher, leader, French student and future medical professional,” Meci says.
After studying abroad in France and researching at the same institution during the fall of his junior year, Meci decided to apply for the fellowship. He also hopes to use some time to travel throughout Europe.
“I chose to pursue a Fulbright because it would allow me both to pursue a meaningful research project and to return to Paris, a city I adore,” Meci says. “My study abroad experience in Paris was a life-changing experience, so recreating a semblance of that in my gap year was my dream.”
There were many people that partnered with Meci as he applied for the fellowship.
“I did not consider a Fulbright an option for me until I was encouraged by Professor [Michael] Henderson,” says Meci. In addition to Henderson, who serves as associate professor of French and international studies at Juniata, at least four other professors mentored Meci through the application process.
On campus, Meci has conducted research on Alzheimer’s disease with Dan Dries, associate professor of biochemistry, with whom he is soon publishing research. Meci says that Dries, “encourages individual work, allowing me to draw connections and come to conclusions individually.”
In addition to working as an emergency medical technician and spending more than 600 hours shadowing various medical professionals from different specialties, Meci is on Juniata’s cross country and track and field teams on campus, setting records in the 600-meter and 1,000-meter races.
“Competitive running is a goal-oriented sport that requires a disciplined work ethic in addition to sheer grit,” Meci says. “The work ethic that I employ in my sport is the same as that I apply to my studies and my research.”
--Written by Rachel Desfosses ’21--
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