Covenanter Receives Prestigious Science Research Award

Post a Comment » Written on April 9th, 2007     
Filed under: News
ROCHESTER, MN (April 9, 2007) – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has honored Covenanter Rachel Bergstrom with its prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Award.

Bergstrom is in the molecular neuroscience program at Mayo Graduate School in Rochester. She began her doctoral program in June 2006 and is scheduled to complete it in 2011. She grew up in the Monticello (Minnesota) Covenant Church and is a 2004 graduate of North Park University.

BergstromThe NSF awards are given for a diverse range of research projects that address fundamental questions in basic science, though not necessarily disease-specific research. Bergstrom’s project deals with neurons, which process and transmit messages across the nervous system, and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1,) a hormone necessary for healthy neurons.

Although this research deals mainly with how neurons communicate, Bergstrom says that it could potentially have implications for diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in which neurons are directly affected in negative ways.

“Studying how IGF-1 trafficking and signaling works in neurons not only helps to understand what is going on in ALS, but it may open doors to a better understanding of how IGF-1 works in normal neurons and other cells in the body,” Bergstrom says.

The fellowship is awarded to 1,000 recipients each year to support research projects in masters and doctoral degree programs in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The fellowship, which includes three years of support through tuition and a stipend, seeks to expand the field of scientists, in number and diversity, in the United States.

“The important part of this is that the application (for the fellowship) is used to demonstrate that I am able to think through a problem and develop ways to test my hypotheses,” Bergstrom notes. “The application for the program also had a few personal essays that were intended to demonstrate my leadership abilities and my dedication to research as a ‘citizen scientist.’ ”

Bergstrom says she incorporated various experiences while at North Park in completing the essays, including her trip to the international AIDS conference in Thailand in July 2004, work with the Student Association, and participation with the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

Following her time at North Park, Bergstrom spent 15 months as a technician in the lab of Adriana Ferreira at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Her experience in this lab provided her the opportunity to be the second author on a publication with another North Park graduate, Caryn Tournell, who graduated in 2002. She continues to prepare more of her research for publication.

Bergstrom is the daughter of Richard and Kandace Bergstrom of Northbrook, Illinois, where both are employed at Covenant Village of Northbrook.

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