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2 Ph.D. Student-Adviser Teams Receive Gilliam Fellowships

Briana Davis and Nina Marie Garcia
Briana Davis (left) and Nina Marie Garcia

Duke Ph.D. students Briana Davis and Nina Marie Garcia, along with their faculty advisers, have been awarded the Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Each adviser-student team receives a $50,000 award. The advisers will participate in a year of mentor training to learn about cultural identities and how to listen and engage across cultures. Fellows will be invited to attend the annual Gilliam meeting and scientific meetings at HHMI headquarters.

Davis is a Ph.D. student in molecular genetics and microbiology, pursuing research under the guidance of John Rawls. She earned her bachelor’s in biology in 2018 from North Carolina Central University. She is also a former participant in The Graduate School’s Duke Summer Research Opportunity Program. Her primary research interest is using zebrafish as a model system to understand host-microbe interactions in intestinal epithelial cells.

Garcia is pursuing her Ph.D. in pharmacology under the tutelage of James Alvarez. She came to Duke after earning a bachelor’s in biochemistry at the University of San Diego. She is investigating the role of the histone methyltransferase G9a in modulating replication stress in cancer and how this may help cancer cells combat genomic instability.

The Gilliam Fellowships are designed to increase the diversity of scientists at the college and university faculty level by supporting students who will become scientific leaders. The two Duke Ph.D. students and their advisers were among 45 adviser-student pairs selected for the fellowship this year.