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Brittany Jennings
June 24, 2022

Alyssa Holden

UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy incoming Ph.D. student Alyssa Holden is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP).

The fellowship recognizes outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees, according to the organization’s website.

About receiving the fellowship, Holden said it feels “Completely unreal! I did not expect to get it when I applied, and just thought it would be good writing practice. After I submitted, however, I started to have recurring dreams where I would win the fellowship, and I realized I wanted it very badly. I am so glad that I received the award so that I can share the joy with my family and friends.”

Holden is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she earned her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. She said the fellowship will allow her to focus on her research at Carolina, rather than worrying about finances, and allow her the flexibility to pursue industry internships that may have otherwise been out of reach. The fellowship will also allow her to pursue research questions that may have been too expensive to explore without additional funding.

Holden is currently interested in investigating better ways to deliver drugs to treat diseases with traditionally poor outcomes. “In my Ph.D., I want to employ nanomedicine, immunotherapy, and other engineering tools to achieve this. For example, my NSF GRFP proposal suggested using nanoparticles coated in special endothelial cell membranes to target cancer.”

After obtaining her Ph.D., Holden said she plans to remain in research. “I hope to be a senior scientist working on drug delivery research and development. Maybe I will even be a chief scientific officer one day!”

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