Franceine Welcome ’19 awarded Gilliam Fellowship · Connecticut College News

Franceine Welcome ’19

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded Franceine Welcome ’19 with a Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study. Welcome, who graduated from Conn with a degree in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, will receive $53,000 per year for three years of dissertation research.

The goal of the Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study is to advance diversity and inclusion in U.S. science. 

“I’m honored to be the first student ever to be awarded the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship at Stony Brook University. The Gilliam Fellowship is a unique pre-doctoral fellowship because it prepares underrepresented students to assume leadership roles in science,” said Welcome, a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry and structural biology at Stony Brook University.

“This fellowship provides me the opportunity to bring my work in diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront, alongside my research and connects me with a nationwide network of scientists who share the same interests. I look forward to starting my fellowship this fall.”

Welcome conducts her thesis research in a lab run by Michael Airola, assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and cell biology at Stony Brook University. The lab studies lipid metabolism with a specific focus on lipid-modifying enzymes relevant to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and fungal infections.

At Conn, Welcome took part in the Science Leaders Program run by Marc Zimmer, the Jean C. Tempel ’65 Professor of Chemistry. The program is open to all prospective science majors at Conn, but particularly focused on students from groups that are underrepresented in the sciences. Welcome served as a mentor to, and tutor for, underrepresented STEM students, and coordinated an evening program to support incoming Science Leaders students during their first week on Conn’s campus. 

“The fact that Franceine has two co-authored articles from her undergraduate research is an indication of her excellence in the lab and her intellectual abilities,” Zimmer said. “She is intelligent, diligent, motivated and it was a pleasure to have in the laboratory and in the Science Leaders program.”

In 2019, Welcome was awarded the Jewel Plummer Cobb Prize, the highest award for women majoring in STEM disciplines at Connecticut College.

The Gilliam Fellowships were created in 2004 in honor of the late James H. Gilliam, Jr., a charter Trustee of HHMI and chair of its Audit and Compensation Committee. Mr. Gilliam was a respected business and civic leader who spent his life nurturing excellence and diversity in science and education.

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