I had the privilege the other night to get to see the final presentations of the recipients of this years Grants for Experiential Learning in Health (GELH). This grant is unlike anything I have ever heard of and after talking to Rachel Fan I knew I just had to learn more. The grant is open to Sophomores and Juniors looking to explore health related fields preferably outside of Lehigh. The grant covers things like volunteering at an NGO, shadowing a physician or taking on a research project. The application for 2017 is now open and will stay open until January 29, 2017. From the presentations I witnessed this is an amazing opportunity that seems to go under the radar here at Lehigh.
The night started with an opening statement made by Lehigh’s own Professor Kelly Austin of the Sociology Department. We then heard from a total of 13 students and the event lasted for 2 hours, but the presentations were so enthralling that I barely even noticed the time until I looked out the window to see that the sun had set. The students that presented were Lauren DiNapoli, Leah Holmes, Kristen Mejia, Jenna Pastorini, Summer Sullivan, Rachel Fan, Danielle Hanes, Zihan Liu, Jin Park, Hugh Bartlett, Evan Eckersley, Philip Vendola, and Julia Nelson. Topics of interest to bioengineers included “Designing a 3D Printed Atomic Force Microscope” presented by Zihan Liu and “A Novel Polysaccharide Lyase to Combat Toxic Algal Blooms” presented by Evan Eckersley. Evan’s presentations was especially interesting because they were able to take an enzyme and mutate it to attack the cell walls of the algae. They were successful and now he is in the stage of testing the enzyme to see if it causes harm to other plants or wildlife that would be present in the ponds where these harmful algal blooms are forming as a result of agricultural runoff. Other projects involved traveling to Cambodia to study the effects of Baksbat, which means broken courage, and is the result of the genocide that occurred in Cambodia not to long ago. Some students even travelled to Uganda to study Mental Illness and the effects of foreign health aid. It was truly amazing to hear about how passionate these students were about their research, and I hope more people apply for this grant so I can hear about all of the amazing things Lehigh students are doing next year!