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NDSU student receives Astronaut Scholarship

Photo of B EklundBridget Eklund, an NDSU senior majoring in microbiology, has received the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship for 2015-16, according to the Office of the Provost.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation annually presents scholarships of up to $10,000 to outstanding undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.

“Bridget has an excellent record of success in both academics and research at NDSU,” said Provost Beth Ingram. “Her abilities and potential clearly match the goals and high expectations of the Astronaut Scholarship.”

Eklund, who grew up in Scandia, Minnesota, works in the laboratory of Nathan Fisher, assistant professor of veterinary and microbiological sciences. Eklund is studying a bacterium that can cause a potentially deadly disease called tularemia. The rare infectious disease can attack the skin, eyes, lymph nodes, lungs and internal organs.

"We use cockroaches as a model, like other researchers might use mice, to study the bacteria," Eklund explained, noting cockroaches have a strong immune system and are good hosts for antibiotics. "We're focusing on one specific gene in our work. If we can contribute to the overall knowledge of this bacteria, the closer we are to a cure."She gave a highlighted oral presentation about her research at the American Society for Microbiology's Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting Feb. 9-11 in Washington, D.C.

"Bridget is a truly outstanding student who is dedicated to a future career as a biomedical research scientist," said Fisher in a letter of support. "In my opinion, Bridget is the type of dedicated and talented student that comes along only a couple times throughout one's career."

Eklund is president of the NDSU Biotechnology and Microbiology Club, a member of the Honor Commission for the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources and a teaching assistant for the general microbiology lab course. She also was recently selected as a Goldwater Scholar.

Eklund plans to earn a doctorate in microbiology, with a goal to teach and conduct research at the university level. "I look forward to a career devoted to advancing our knowledge of important pathogens and educating future professionals," she said.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was created in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s Mercury 7 astronauts with the intent to aid the United States retain world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for students who demonstrate motivation, imagination and a high level of performance.

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