Alumni donors Julie (’78) and Al Paulus have funded a scholarship for the McNair Scholars Program, which helps first generation and low income students to pursue their career goals through graduate school education. This year, Aaron Lewkowicz has been selected to receive this scholarship.
A Clinical Lab Sciences major, Aaron worked for five years as a lab assistant in a hospital in Minneapolis before enrolling at NMU for his degree. He recently completed a six month Medical Laboratory Technician internship at the Organization of Saint Francis Hospital (OSF) in Escanaba. Aaron writes that “I met many wonderful people there, from mission focused staff to patients who were willing to share their experience with me. While at OSF I was able to volunteer at a health fair held at a local casino to raise diabetes and cholesterol awareness. I will be joining OSF again at the upcoming UP State Fair with the same objective.”
Aaron’s McNair funded research will involve developing a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assay for the detection of Staphylococcus aureus. As Aaron explains, “LAMP is similar to the popular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique, in that it can be used in laboratories to detect small quantities of specific DNA. LAMP technology is about 15 years old now and it is starting to gain notoriety in the scientific community. The LAMP procedure is less expensive, simpler, and as accurate as the traditional PCR used today. This is exciting because embracing this simpler technology could help bring affordable, fast, and accurate tests to virtually any healthcare entity around the world.”
Aaron writes, “I will begin research this 2016 Fall semester and hopefully I will finish my project around December. I would like to use this project to show graduate schools what I am capable of ………. This fall I intend to apply for a summer internship with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute of Health. They do not take a lot of interns, but I believe that if I can get the opportunity it would help me understand my passion.”
After graduation, Aaron is interested in pursuing a PhD in medical research or becoming a pathologist. His McNair research mentor, Dr. Paul Mann, described Aaron as “a phenomenal student who is intelligent, inquisitive, and dedicated. He consistently scores the highest on every exam or quiz in the courses I have taught that he has taken. These are difficult Clinical Laboratory Science courses where the class average is usually in the low 70s and Aaron consistently scores in the mid to high 90s. He demonstrates a high level of mastery of the subject matter both in the classroom and in a laboratory setting. Aaron possesses a level of intellectual curiosity that far exceeds that of his peers in the classroom. He consistently asks thoughtful and insightful questions that are relevant to the material being taught.”
The Paulus scholarship is the first scholarship that Aaron has ever received. As Aaron wrote in thanking Mr. and Mrs. Paulus, “Your generosity permits me to focus on my education, and it serves as a personal reminder to me of the type of person I would like to become. I am able to be here today because of the time and care of others, and I hope someday I will be able to help someone in the same way.”