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Rensselaer scholar receives NSF Research Fellowship
Date:6/8/2011

Troy, N.Y. It has been an exciting time for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Kinsley French. During the Rensselaer commencement, French was awarded the J. Erik Jonsson Prize for her perfect 4.0 grade point average and high-caliber undergraduate research. She earned a dual major in mathematics and biology in just three and a half years.

Just weeks before, French received the exciting news that she had earned a graduate research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to pursue her research into proteins and HIV transmission while she works toward her doctoral degree at Rensselaer. The award, which goes to only a select few graduate students around the nation, will help cover French's tuition, fund her research, and provide her a stipend while she pursues her Ph.D.

"I would, without hesitation, put Kinsley as the best overall of all students that I worked with during 20 years of my academic career at some of the best schools in the United States," said French's adviser George Makhatadze, Constellation Professor in Biocomputation and Bioinformatics "It seems to me that Kinsley excels in everything she does. She maintained a 4.0 GPA and is first in her class at RPI, while pursuing dual major. She is fantastic in the lab, and she even finds time to do significant amounts of outreach in the rural parts of upstate New York as a math and science tutor."

Kinsley has been working in Makhatdze's lab since her junior year. Her research focuses on how proteins in the body sometimes clump together, a process called aggregation. This seemingly simple biochemical process actually involves many different mechanical and chemical interactions in the body and is responsible for many of the degenerative illnesses that humans currently face, from Alzheimer's disease to diabetes. Kinsley is currently studying how a specific type of protein aggregate called amyloid fibrils might play a role in the transmission of HIV by men.

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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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