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Jesse Laney in front of brick wall and shrubbery

Graduate students receive ARCS scholarships for academic excellence

By Srila Nayak

Jesse Laney, Ph.D. student, integrative biology

The College of Science warmly congratulates Jesse Howe, Ashley Pica and Jesse Laney for their selection as 2018 ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation Oregon scholars. They are among the 23 young scientists and engineers who received ARCS scholarships this year. Overall, 14 Oregon State University received scholarships from the ARCS Foundation this year.

The ARCS Foundation Oregon Chapter supports outstanding doctoral students in STEM fields at Oregon Health and Science University, OSU and the University of Oregon. The 14-year old chapter has supported over 225 Ph.D. candidates with financial aid of more than $3.6 million raised from endowed funds, donors and chapter fundraising.

Through its partnership with the ARCS Foundation, OSU is able to recruit the very best Ph.D. students into science and engineering programs. The ARCS award provides doctoral students with $18,000, payable over three years at $6,000 per year.

Kudos to these first-year Ph.D. students, our 2018 ARCS Scholars!

Jesse Howe in front of beige backdrop
Jesse Howe , Ph.D. student, biochemistry & biophysics

Jesse Howe was attracted by the strong research environment in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Not only did the research match his interests, but Howe was also drawn to the friendly and sociable atmosphere in biochemistry and biophysics as well as the outstanding research credentials of its faculty.

“I came to OSU largely because I felt that students are the first priority here. I felt very much wanted and welcomed, and that made me want to join this program,” Howe said.

Since June, Howe has worked in the labs of Elisar Barbar and Weihong Qiu studying the structure of kinesin-14 motor proteins and the thermodynamics of motor protein interactions. He also received the 2018 Provost’s Distinguished Graduate Fellowship at OSU.

Howe graduated cum laude with a degree in biochemistry from California State University, San Marcos where he engaged extensively in undergraduate research. He studied at Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany, where he conducted research in the Department of Molecular Physical Chemistry.

Howe received the ARCS Foundation Oregon Chapter Scholar award.

Ashley Pica in front of beige backdrop
Ashley Pica, Ph.D. student, chemistry

A doctoral student in chemistry, Ashley Pica holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bard College, New York. Pica is keenly interested in pursuing nuclear chemistry research with Professor Walter Loveland — her primary reason for coming to OSU. Pica looks forward to conducting research on manipulating nuclear stability and the applications to environmental and biomedical problems.

She wrote her undergraduate thesis on inhibiting the metastasis of breast cancer by targeting the human estrogen receptor with β3 peptides. At Bard College, Pica received a number of awards including the Distinguished Scientist Scholar award.

She was awarded the Cunningham/Weaver Scholar award by ARCS Foundation Oregon.

Jesse Laney (pictured above) is a doctoral student in the Department of Integrative Biology, focusing his research on changes to high-altitude desert ecosystems through time in the lab of Associate Professor Rebecca Terry.

In his research, Laney employs historical records, specimens from museum collections and field surveys to investigate how terrestrial vertebrates (birds and small mammals) and communities within a montane desert ecosystem in the Northern Great Basin have responded to the intersection of climate change and anthropogenic impacts to the landscape in the last century.

“One of the goals of my research is to provide robust inference into the future of biodiversity in linked montane desert systems and contribute to our understanding of how to define and manage for community resilience in an era of rapid ecological change,” Laney said.

Laney graduated magna cum laude with a degree in fisheries and wildlife science from Oregon State University. As an undergraduate student, Laney received the Systematics of Birds Teaching Fellowship and the Ford Family Foundation Restart Scholarship.

Laney was selected for the ARCS Foundation Oregon Chapter Scholar award.