Diamond Ling, a senior at the University of Rochester, was selected as one of 13 winners of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship. She was selected from a pool of more than 250 applicants nationwide who are pursuing science and social-science health-related degrees. Ling is the third student at the University to be named an NIH Undergraduate Scholar in the last four years.
Ling, who is majoring in neuroscience with a minor in religion, will receive up to $20,000 in scholarship funds for her senior-year college expenses, a 10-week paid summer research laboratory experience at an NIH facility after graduation, formal seminars and professional mentoring, and a full-time paid NIH research position following completion of her doctoral degree.
"For me, the challenge is pursuing my two interests, neuropharmacology and complementary and alternative medicine," Ling said. "I'm hoping the experiences I'll receive through NIH will help me figure out how to do both."
During her undergraduate career, Ling has participated in several laboratory research experiences. As a freshman, she worked in a microbiology laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Ling also conducted research on novel anti-cancer and anti-oxidant compounds from Malaysian herbal plants at Ohio State University last summer. This year, Ling was selected to be in the University's 2009 de Kiewiet Summer Research Fellowship Program and currently works in the Nordeen Laboratory led by Professors Kathy and Ernest Nordeen of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Ling studies the effects of deafening on social context-dependent song behavior in adult male zebra finches.
"In our lab, Diamond's curiosity and energy is continually evident not only in the way she approaches her own projects, but in her interest in everything that goes on in the lab," says Kathy Nordeen. "This natural curiosity and drive to extend her knowledge is what makes her a great choice for the NIH award; I'm confident that she'll excel as an NIH scholar and will ultimately make important contributions to our understanding of the biological basis of behavior."
Ling is a native of Pleasanton, Calif., but moved to Shanghai, China, where she attended high school. She is a perennial Dean's List student and has been a teaching assistant in both general chemistry and Italian. She also was a recipient of the University's Burton Award (for Italian literature) and the Sophomore Book Award (for Japanese) from the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures.
Faculty and administrators who have worked closely with Ling welcomed news of the scholarship.
"Diamond's academic skills and personality have given her the background she needs to pursue her unique interest in pairing traditional Chinese medicine with neuroscience," says David Holtzman, a senior lecturer in the brain and cognitive sciences department, who has taught Ling in the classroom and in the Nordeen Lab. "She is a dedicated student and scientist; her ability to pull in complex information and apply it to different situations will serve her well in the lab and in the classroom."