Mendoza and Orlofske in the lab

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Alma Mendoza, a senior Biology major at Northeastern Illinois University, has been awarded a Willis A. Reid undergraduate research grant by the Education Committee of the American Society of Parasitologists. The $500 grant will help fund Mendoza’s research on diversity of Plachiorchids in Midwestern wetlands.

Mendoza, who is on track to graduate in May, received the award for a grant proposal she wrote for her Independent Research course as her Biology capstone requirement.

“This grant will enable me to become a better scientist by providing me the opportunity to explore my own research questions,” said Mendoza, who is minoring in Chemistry. “I will apply the knowledge that I’ve learned both in classes and from a Student Center for Science Engagement internship this past summer. It brings me one step closer to an M.D./Ph.D. program by making my application more competitive. I plan to use my grant writing skills to further fund my research in future endeavors.”

This was the second grant award for Mendoza, who transferred to Northeastern from Harold Washington College after graduating from Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago. In July 2015, she received a $250 undergraduate research grant from the regional parasitology society, the Annual Midwestern Conference of Parasitologists.

“Alma's award as an undergraduate speaks to her current ability and future potential as a scientist and leader,” Assistant Professor of Biology Sarah Orlofske said. “This award recognizes her ability to generate good research questions, design appropriate methodology, understand the context of previous research, and convey the importance of her study to other leaders in the field of parasitology. This award will not only improve her independent study project but also the publication that will stem from her research. Ultimately this will help her tremendously in the next step of her career.”

After earning her bachelor's degree, Mendoza plans to continue working on her manuscript on Plagiorchid trematodes while applying to medical school. She plans on starting medical school in fall 2017 and to pursue further research with a focus on infectious diseases.

“My experience at Northeastern has been very enriching,” she said. “The supportive professors and affordability of the school have made graduation attainable. I’ve had the opportunity to work one-on-one with brilliant scientists on exciting research on both snakes and parasites.”