Alum wins a prestigious scientific research grant

For the second time in her academic career, Gabrielle “Gabby” Coffing ’19 has won one of the country’s most prestigious science awards.

Coffing won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which will fund three years of his studies towards a doctorate. in biology. As a junior with a double major in Computer Science and Cell and Molecular Biology at DePauw, she won a Barry M. Goldwater Fellowship, awarded to America’s top 211 students in natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. The Goldwater scholarship supported his final year at DePauw.

In the fall, after graduating in May 2019, Coffing traveled to the University of Oregon, where she is studying the octopus visual system at the molecular and genetic level and studying how it compares. to other species.

The scholarship provides three years of an annual stipend of $ 34,000 and an education stipend of $ 12,000. Winning it, Coffing said via email, “shows reviewers believe my research and outreach plans will have an impact on the scientific community. In addition to my research plans, I will be advising undergraduate students throughout my time at UO in research and professional development. … It’s good to get validation from the reviewers that they think I can do this research and have an impact in my community.

She hopes to someday teach and open her own research lab, where “I hope to create a welcoming environment where students can learn to code and use those skills to answer biological questions. My goal is to make computational biology and science in general more accessible to under-represented groups. “

Her undergraduate mentorship plans mirror her activities at DePauw, said Gloria Townsend, professor of computer science. Gabby not only got the top mark in my computer class, she also gave Townsend the ‘next one’ via email. “Gabby graciously dedicated time to our Women in Computing outreach activities; She helped about 20 local Girl Scouts get their computer badges by developing a workshop for little girls to learn Scratch (a drag-and-drop programming language) and to use the language in storytelling.

At DePauw, Coffing raced cross country and track for four years, largely because “I loved being on the team.” Running “helped me relieve a lot of stress, but also pushed me to be better in ways academics don’t. “

She is still running and has also started hiking and biking. “Like when I was in college,” she said, “running regularly gives me a break from my studies and is also fun.”

(Top photo of Coffing as an undergraduate student by Tim Sofranko. Small portrait of Coffing at the University of Oregon by Molly Shallow.)

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