|Grad student receives prestigious National Science Award|
A University of North Dakota graduate student from the African nation of Cameroon is one of only 38 scholars from across the country to receive the UNCF-Merck Science Initiative Award this year from the pharmaceutical company Merck, Inc., and the United Negro College Fund - the nation’s oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization.
Neville Forlemu, a graduate student in the chemistry department, will receive up to $52,000 as a winner of the UNCF/Merck awards, which target students pursuing careers in biomedical research.
“It is absolutely a rewarding and inspirational experience to know and feel that your research project has some profound significance in the circles of some of the great scientists of our time; the prospect of having time to focus solely on my research and learn new research methodologies is just amazing,” Forlemu said.
Forlemu originally came to UND to study chemistry after a fellow UND student, who also is from Cameroon, convinced him to make the continental leap from the Central African coast to the Great Plains of America.
Forlemu is not a stranger to high praise and academic honors. Earlier this year, he and eight others from across the country received the 2008 Minority Travel Award and were invited to attend a joint meeting of the Biophysical Society and the International Biophysics Congress in Long Beach, Calif. He was honored at a reception for his study of “Brownian Dynamics Simulations of Enzyme-Enzyme Interactions and Ligand Transfer.” He also won the same award in 2007.
Before coming to UND, Forlemu received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Buea-Cameroon, where he also minored in medical laboratory technology. He currently is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Biophysical Society.
In 2006, the Science Initiative program was renewed to provide more than $13 million in scholarship grants over five years. To date, nearly 500 scholarships and fellowships have been awarded to African-American students, who, through a competitive application process, were selected as a result of their academic achievements and in potential in the biomedical research field.
“Merck’s commitment to building a pipeline of minority students in the biosciences that extends all the way from undergraduate school through post-doctoral programs, demonstrates its leadership and its understanding of the importance of preparing this nation to be able to compete in the global economy,” said Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO.