Alicia Woock, a May 2012 graduate of Appalachian State University, is starting her professional career with a prestigious two-year internship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. She credits her research opportunities in Appalachian’s chemistry labs for getting her there.
“It’s a direct result of this opportunity,” said Woock. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jennifer Cecile, she studied the intestines of a roundworm called Caenorhabditis elegans to see how certain proteins help the worm expel xenobiotics and other negative substances. This new knowledge can help scientists better understand how certain proteins can prolong the presence of pharmaceuticals in the human body.
Her experiences in Cecile’s lab, which included teamwork and leadership development as she mentored younger students, also have prepared her well for attending medical school, she said.
“I knew I wanted to major in chemistry, and I knew Appalachian was small enough to let me work with professors. In my sophomore year, I asked Dr. Cecile if I could work with her in her lab and it’s been the best decision I’ve made in college. I’ve learned a lot more about biochemistry in this research lab than I would have just in the classroom.”
“One of the reasons Alicia was picked for the NIH internship was because she did a lot of microscopy work here at Appalachian. The equipment she will use at NIH will be different, but the techniques will be similar,” Cecile said.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to go to a school that doesn’t offer the opportunities that Appalachian does. You can do anything with the academics here,” said Woock, who is from New Bern.
During her senior year, Woock was among 29 Appalachian students selected to present at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Prior to that, Woock won the first-ever outstanding interdisciplinary research award presented by Appalachian’s campus chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society during her junior year.