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Alcorn graduates accepted into Ph.D. program at Penn State

After graduating this Saturday, two Alcorn State University students, Melanie McReynolds and Kerry Belton, will be all set to start the doctoral program at Penn State University.

McReynolds, biology major, began studies for her Master of Science degree in fall 2009 after receiving her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Alcorn. In 2007, as an undergraduate student, she participated in the ASU Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Program and received training at St. John’s Clinical Research Institute, Bangalore, India. In December 2010, she attended a month-long ASU-PSU research internship program at Penn State University. While at PSU, McReynolds took two graduate courses and did research which she later used to complete her master thesis. The research was done in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Cameron, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Department of Biochemistry-Microbiology - Molecular Biology. The title of her thesis research is “Establishment of an inducible cell line for the mitochondrial transcription factor (TFA) to study Mitochondrial Transcription”.

After Kerry Belton graduated from Alcorn with a bachelor’s degree in biology, he decided to continue his studies at the University and, in 2008, entered the graduate program in biology. He did his master thesis research under the direction of Dr. Jon Moreno, research associate professor, and Dr. Marta Piva, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. The title of his master thesis is “Molecular Mechanism COB and COX1 Fourth Intron removal by Ccmp1 and b14 maturase.” In December 2010, Belton participated in the research rotation and internship program of the ASU-PSU Bridges Program at Penn State.

McReynolds and Belton defended their thesis research before members of their Graduate Thesis Committee, interested faculty members and students on March 28, 2011. “Both students did an excellent job presenting the results of their research,” said Dr. Bettaiya Rajanna, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences who is also the program director of the NIH sponsored ASU-PSU Bridges to Doctoral Program. Melanie’s mother Mrs. Pearline McReynolds, who was present at the time of her daughter’s thesis presentation, said, “I am very happy to witness my daughter’s wonderful presentation.”

Both students have been accepted to the doctoral program under the guidelines of the ASU-PSU Bridges to Doctoral Program. They plan to begin their doctoral program on June 1, 2011.

Dr. Rajanna is very pleased about the transition of these two graduates to Penn State University as doctoral students: “Under this program, since 2008, we have placed seven ASU students in Ph.D. programs in some of the most prestigious and highly visible research areas at Penn State University. Two more students, Lucius Daughtry and Brenita Jenkin, were recruited for the ASU-PSU Bridges program to have their research rotations at Penn State June 1 through December 2011. This will be a great experience for them”.

Students who are focused and determined on advancing to a doctoral program, are encouraged to contact Dr. Bettaiya Rajanna at 601.877.6681 or Dr. Robert Sizemore at 601.877.6677. Plans are in place to recruit three students for this program in fall 2011.