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UK Biology Student RISEs to Challenge of German Internship

By Whitney Hale

(April 21, 2015) — University of Kentucky sophomore Hannah Latta has been awarded a summer internship through the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD). The internship will provide the biology major an opportunity to do research at one of Germany's top universities and research institutions.

DAAD offers a wide range of funding opportunities for individuals and institutions in higher education. The program's primary goal is to facilitate transatlantic mobility to Germany for U.S. and Canadian scholars. DAAD's RISE is a summer internship program for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. RISE offers opportunities to work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for a period of two to three months during the summer.

RISE interns are matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. All scholarship holders receive stipends from DAAD to help cover living expenses, while partner universities and research institutes provide housing assistance.

Internships from RISE were first offered in 2005. Following the first intake of around 100 students, the number of participants has increased steadily to approximately 300 scholarship recipients.

Latta, the daughter of Gary and Lou Ann Geveden Latta, of Mayfield, Kentucky, will do her RISE internship in epigenetics research at Martin Luther University in Halle Saale, Germany.

"I will be collaborating with Maria Giebler, a Ph.D. student, to investigate the Piwi gene and its effects on infertility," Latta said. "Additionally, I will be able to form invaluable connections with aspiring scientists from Canada and the United Kingdom during my internship."

The RISE recipient first became interested in biology, and specifically genetics, at Graves County High School. "In high school, I was introduced to the field of genetics, and I have since possessed an insatiable desire to further my knowledge concerning the subject. It was this fascination that prompted me to study biology at the University of Kentucky."

At UK, Latta is already active in research at the undergraduate level working in the laboratory of Vivek Rangnekar, UK professor and Alfred Cohen Chair in Oncology Research in the Department of Radiation Medicine. Rangnekar's research is studying the effects of Par4 on glycolysis and metabolism rates in mice.

Outside of her biology studies, Latta is a Chellgren Fellow, Gaines Fellow and member of the UK Honors Program. In addition, she is pursuing a minor in French.

Latta credits two mentors, Ruth Beattie, professor of biology, and Pat Whitlow, director of the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, in helping her achieve her initial success and work toward her career goals.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Latta plans to attend medical school and eventually pursue a career in pediatric oncology.

Students who are interested in this and other study abroad internships and scholarship opportunities should contact Pat Whitlow, director of the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Academy of Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education. The office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with Whitlow well in advance of the scholarship deadline.