Alumna awarded Merck Fellowship

Posted on October 31, 2012

Alumna April Clayton receives acknowledgement of her fellowship grant at the UNCF-Merck Science Initiative 2012 Annual Fellows Day banquet.

April Clayton ’08, currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, recently received one of only a dozen Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowships awarded this year by UNCF/Merck Science Initiative (UMSI). UMSI is a partnership of UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and Merck, a global healthcare company. April is one of 37 African-American students awarded scholarships and fellowships this year.

The award provides up to $53,500 toward April’s graduate research.

“This fellowship is a true blessing,” she said. “With it, I will be able to successfully complete my Ph.D., and it has already opened many doors for me professionally.” Her work concentrates on understanding mosquitos’ innate immunity to malaria. “The goal is to discover novel control strategies to decrease malaria transmission to humans.”

April hopes to defend her thesis by the fall of 2013, then plans to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship for two to four years. After that, she would like to “teach and conduct research in a small liberal arts setting—like Erskine.”

April says she was well prepared for graduate school by the “academic rigor and challenges” of her Erskine experience, completing a double major in biology and chemistry. Erskine mentors “encouraged me to think critically and to have a sincere passion for research.” They provided “a huge and motivating force” that has helped to sustain her at Johns Hopkins, April said.

“The charge to be a Christian scholar and steward that I took up while at Erskine has allowed me to persevere and to be successful at Hopkins in order to glorify God.”