Student research a cause for celebration at annual ARCS Scholar Awards Luncheon

ARCSStudent research and the pursuit of knowledge took center stage at the seventh annual Scholar Awards Luncheon of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation – Portland chapter, held Oct. 18. Since 2005, ARCS Foundation Portland has provided financial support for 90 OHSU and Oregon State University scholars to the tune of $1.4 million. The small group of women behind the successful program was recently featured in this OHSU media release.

Rebecca Richards, PhD, now an MD/PhD candidate and an ARCS alumna, spoke about her experience as one of 500 students from around the world invited to attend the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany. She also spoke about the significance of ARCS Foundation support, likening it to a “vote of confidence” that “on more than one occasion picked me up when one of my experiments let me down.”

The keynote speaker – Craig Barrett, PhD, retired CEO/Chairman of Intel Corporation – used a series of fortune cookie messages to tell the crowd of several hundred his philosophy of competitive advantage. First and foremost, he spoke about the importance of education. “If you fail in education, you fail as a country,” he said.

Among the eight new scholar awards to OHSU students are Danielle Robinson and Christopher Vaaga, both neuroscience graduate program enrollees.

Danielle Robinson is studying synapse formation in cells involved in hearing and balance in the lab of Teresa Nicolson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, a scientist in the Oregon Hearing Research Center and the Vollum Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Next, she will work with Haining Zhong, PhD, Assistant Scientist, Vollum Institute and recipient of a 2011 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Danielle worked as an artist for five years in and around New York City before coming to OHSU, and said the transition from art to neuroscience research was “creatively satisfying.”

“I am honored to be an ARCS Scholar – it's such a great organization,” said Danielle. “Connecting with the other students from other disciplines and the Foundation members through ARCS has certainly made my transition easier.”

“One of the biggest advantages of being an ARCS scholar is the ability to discuss neuroscience with the local community,” said Christopher, who is interested in how nerve cells communicate with one another to create meaningful signals which can later be for conscious decision-making. “The brain is arguably the most complex biological system. It is our job, as students and scientists, to explain our work to the community, if for no other reason than to share our passion and the exciting advances in the field.”

Pictured above: Rebecca Richards, PhD, speaks about meeting Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany this summer




Danielle Robinson (right), recipient of the Richardson Scholar Award, with her husband











 (l to r) OSU President Edward Ray, ARCS Foundation Portland President Caron Ogg and OHSU President Joe Robertson 












 Christopher Vaaga, recipient of the Cyndy and Edward Maletis Scholar Award