Marisa Simon Receives Goldwater Honorable Mention

Marisa Simon Receives Goldwater Honorable Mention
Biology Major Plans to Pursue Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine

Marisa SimonBiology major, Marisa Simon, was awarded a Goldwater Honorable Mention from the Goldwater Foundation. Simon, a junior, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular medicine and specialize in cancer research.

The Goldwater Foundation recognizes outstanding students in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Nationwide 1,166 students were nominated by their colleges and universities. While 283 were chosen for the Goldwater Scholarship, another 247 received a Goldwater Honorable Mention.

“During my career, I want to help devise new targeted therapies for cancer, confirm their safety for human use through clinical trials, and develop more effective preventative measures.”

Her exposure to cancer research began at UH in the lab of Cecilia Williams, an assistant professor in UH’s Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling. The work is targeting the most severe subtype of breast cancer, called triple-negative breast cancer. Simon’s project is to validate a potential molecular target for the treatment of this type of cancer.

“The work that Dr. Williams and I are doing is what I perceive to be the future of personalized cancer therapy,” she said. “So far, there have been great successes with using protein-targeted therapies in clinical trials.”

For Simon, strong mentors have been important to shaping her career plans.

“Karen Weber in the Office of Undergraduate Research stimulated my initial involvement in research and really supported me in my career endeavors,” she said. “Dr. Williams is also a strong influence on me; I see how she manages her lab and how much effort she puts into education and research. It is really inspirational.”

- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics