Stephen Gaudino, who graduated in May with a degree in biology, was awarded a prestigious 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) this spring.
He is one of 2,000 students chosen from among 17,000 applicants nationwide for the grant, which is awarded to students who show great potential in strengthening what the NSF calls the “the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.” Gaudino begins studies for a Master of Science in Integrative Biology at Hofstra this summer, and will receive $46,000 toward tuition and living expenses each year in the program.
“My research interests are in microbiology, and specifically, pathogenic bacteria and methods that could play a role in disease prevention,” said Gaudino, of Massapequa, NY. His work in the lab of biology professor and advisor Nathan Rigel, PhD, revolves around the PilR transcriptional regulator. PilR is needed to form Type IV pili, a structure found on the surface of bacterial cells. Pili are important for basic functions like movement and can aid attachment to human cells during infection.
”Stephen has been an integral part of my lab since the day he joined in 2014. As a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship, he now joins a truly world-class group of scientists including countless Nobel Prize recipients,” said Dr. Rigel. “This achievement speaks volumes about Stephen’s potential as a scientist; it also reflects the strength of the research environment that the biology faculty provide to our students.”
In addition to a strong personal statement, academic record, and letters of recommendation, Gaudino submitted a research proposal in which he outlined a plan to further examine the role of PilR using both genetic and biochemical strategies. He applied for the fellowship with the help of Drs. Rigel and Neil H. Donahue, the assistant provost for undergraduate research and fellowships.
Gaudino is also the treasurer and historian of Hofstra’s biological honors society Beta Beta Beta, a member of SMACS (Student Members of the American Chemical Society), and an avid illustrator and painter. He is spending the summer in Dr. Rigel’s lab, working on his research project and graduate thesis.