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UNC School of Medicine graduate students Oscar Arroyo from Daniel McKay’s lab and Aleah Bailey from Ilona Jasper’s lab, were among 50 students across the United States named as Gilliam Fellows by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced the 2023 class of 50 Gilliam Fellows conducting outstanding research in their respective scientific fields and their advisers who are committed to building a more inclusive scientific environment. Each adviser-student pair will receive an annual award of $53,000 for up to three years.

The Gilliam Program invests in graduate students from populations historically excluded and underrepresented in science so that they are prepared to become scientific leaders.

“The Gilliam Fellowship not only supports incredibly talented graduate students who are poised to become future leaders in science,” says Joshua Hall, senior program officer for the Gilliam Fellows Program, “but it also engages thesis advisers and institutions in the work of creating training environments in which all students can thrive.”

The UNC School of Medicine has two Gilliam Fellows this year – Oscar Arroyo and Aleah Bailey.

Arroyo is a fourth-year PhD student in the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology and member of the lab of Daniel McKay, PhD, associate professor of genetics and biology. Arroyo’s research focuses on the mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation during early development. He is a former UNC JEDI Fellow, during which time he worked to integrate current graduate students into the admissions review process in the biomedical sciences.

Bailey is a third-year graduate student in the Curriculum in Toxicology and Environmental Medicine and member of the lab of Ilona Jaspers, PhD, director of the curriculum and the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma, and Lung Biology. She is also a professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology, and a member of the Children’s Research Institute. Bailey studies the synergistic effects of psychosocial stress and wildfire smoke exposure on physiologic pathways.

HHMI’s Gilliam Fellows Program recognizes that advisers play an integral role in helping their students realize their high potential. For this reason, Gilliam advisers participate in a year-long mentorship development course led by facilitator-scholars from HHMI’s Scientific Mentorship Initiative.

Read more about the HHMI and Gilliam Fellowships, including a full list of recipients, at the HHMI website.