Anand Sunny Narayanan may be the first person in his family to attend college in the United States, but he has no small ambitions.
The West Virginia University McNair Scholar aims to some day work for NASA researching new devices and tools that allow for easy monitoring of astronauts’ health vitals while on expeditions.
Narayanan, a WVU junior double majoring in mechanical engineering and biology, is getting a head start on his future career through research for a chemotherapy drug detection biosensor using small strands of DNA. He recently presented his research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Phoenix.
Through WVU’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, Narayanan has been working with Peter Gannett, professor and associate chair of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences at WVU, on his research.
Together, they hope to create a sensor that would easily and accurately determine the concentrations of the common chemotherapy drug cisplatin in a patient. The sensor would let doctors know when to reduce the drug dosage being administered to the patient, which in turn can lessen the painful side effects.
“The topic itself is incredibly interesting to me, not just from an intellectual standpoint, but also from the standpoint of wanting to potentially reduce the pain these chemotherapy patients experience,” said Narayanan, who is originally from Germany but moved to Morgantown with his family in 1997.
Based on his research abstract, Narayanan received a $1,500 travel award to attend the biomedical research conference. The research conference is the largest professional conference for students involved with biomedical/behavioral sciences. Students from more than 285 U.S. colleges and universities were invited to participate.
Narayanan’s experience at the conference gave him an opportunity to discuss his research in detail, learn about graduate schools and improve his overall presentation skills.
“It was an honor to be there and represent West Virginia University’s McNair Scholars Program,” Narayanan said. “The program has been an excellent portal in terms of making research at a lab of my interest accessible to me, as well as providing great help and support towards my graduate school pursuits. It has certainly assisted me to grow into a more well-rounded individual.”
The McNair Scholars Program, which is now accepting applications for its 2010 summer research internship, is designed to help undergraduate, low-income, first-generation or underrepresented college students earn doctoral degrees.
Students in the program are given a $2,500 annual stipend, graduate school placement assistance and professional development opportunities to help them gain admission into master’s and doctoral degree programs.
To be eligible for the program, students must have completed their sophomore year of study by May 2010, be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program full-time, have a minimum cumulative GPA of a 3.0 and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
For more information on the program or to download an application, visit http://www.wvu.edu/~mcnair.
CONTACT: Betty Mei, McNair Scholars Program