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HHMI Fellowships Support Life Science Leaders from Underrepresented Groups

September 19, 2017

With humility even at a moment when they’ve been selected for significant honors, three young Brown University life scientists,  emphasized that they would never be where they are today without the generous guidance of many mentors. Now, as they accept the prestigious fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), doctoral students Kavin Nuñez and Shawn Williams, and postdoctoral researcher Arif Hamid all say that they are dedicated to becoming the mentors they know firsthand can make an existential difference in the careers of young scholars, particularly from historically underrepresented groups and low-income backgrounds.

Hamid’s Hanna H. Gray fellowship will provide him with financial and mentoring support for the next eight years as he completes his postdoc with Brown professors Christopher Moore and Michael Frank — and then early in his career as an assistant professor, wherever that turns out to be. Meanwhile, Nuñez’s and Williams’ Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study will offer financial assistance for the next three years of doctoral research, providing them with networking opportunities and providing mentoring training for their faculty supervisors, Professors Karla Kaun and David Rand, respectively.

HHMI selects fellows from a competitive pool of applicants based on their academic excellence and their potential to become leaders in their disciplines and to inspire a diversity of young scientists. The three selected at Brown each tell a story of how the encouragement of teachers and professors helped them as they pushed past barriers — barriers that they hope to help others overcome, too.

Read more of David Orienstein's story about HHMI Fellowships.