Two former HBCU grads are accepted in to The Bouchet Society

The Bouchet Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. Its network of pre-eminent scholars exemplifies academic and personal excellence, character, service and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.

The 2010 Bouchet Fellows are Kelly Diggs-Andrews, a doctoral student in the Molecular Cell Biology Program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, and Christie T. Spence, a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences.

Diggs-Andrews’ dissertation focuses on understanding the role of brain insulin signaling in the hypoglycemic counterregulatory response. Specifically, her project uses the neuronal insulin receptor knockout (NIRKO) mouse to determine the mechanisms by which insulin may regulate hypothalamic glucose sensing via regulation of key glucose sensing proteins (glucose transporters and/or glucokinase) and correlate these insulin-modulated changes with neuronal activity under conditions of hypoglycemia.

Implications of her work will provide a better understanding of how the brain regulates the counterregulatory response to hypoglycemia to devise therapies to combat severe hypoglycemia in insulin-treated diabetic patients.

She received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to fund her dissertation research. She contributes to numerous outreach and diversity initiatives through her participation in Washington University student groups, including the Association of Black Biomedical Graduate Students and the Young Scientists Program.

Diggs-Andrews, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2005 from Alabama State University, is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University.

Spence’s research interests include personality assessment, personality disorders and personality in African-American adults. Her dissertation research is focused on the relationships between psychological well-being, racial identity and personality in African-American adults.

Spence, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2005 from Spelman College, also is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University. She recently presented her work at the inaugural Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Research Symposium.

An active volunteer, Spence engages in community service activities throughout St. Louis.

Yale and Howard universities established the Bouchet Society in 2005 to recognize the life and academic contributions of Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African-American to earn a doctorate from an American university. He earned a doctorate in physics from Yale in 1876.

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