Chemistry Enthusiast Performs Bench and Bedside Research

 A self-described “science geek,” Ph.D. student Ashley Huderson began to display a keen interest in science as an elementary school student.
      
But, her early fascination with the discipline wasn’t triggered by a run-of-the-mill adolescent occurrence like participating in a science fair or experimenting with a chemistry set.
      
A robbery was actually the catalyst.

“When somebody broke into our house, the crime lab came and they were dusting and examining everything and I wanted to know why they were doing that,” Huderson said. “I actually got to talk to one of the detectives who explained the process like you would explain it to an elementary school student and it kind of piqued my interest.”
      
Huderson, who conducts colon cancer research in the Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology in the lab of A. Ramesh, Ph.D., came to Meharry in 2006 looking for a way to marry two interests.
      
During her undergraduate study at Spelman College, where Huderson was a chemistry major, she aligned herself with the school’s mission of advocating for human rights. She wanted to find a way to incorporate that mission into her field of study.
      
“For me it clicked that there is a sector in the world that encompasses the two, and it deals with biomedical research,” she said. “So I started looking for biomedical programs where I would be doing science but also incorporating community-based research.”  
      
Meharry turned out to be a perfect fit for the New Orleans native.

Her studies in the School of Graduate Studies and Research allow her to work in a lab that focuses on cancer research and toxicology, which is in line with her original interest in forensics. And, she is also exposed to community-based research as a Health Policy Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College.
      
Huderson is in the second cohort of students receiving a Mehary Medical College Robert Wood Johnson Certificate in Health Policy which she says helps her to fully understand who her research actually benefits.
      
“You read statistics and numbers all of the time but I get to see the people these numbers are actually talking about,” Huderson said. “It helps me to focus more on the research because I can directly correlate it to the group of people that I am doing this research for.”
      
When she’s not studying, Huderson spends a lot of her time mentoring adolescent girls in math, science and leadership through her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
     
Huderson will defend her thesis, "Mechanisms Underlying the Inhibition of Benzo(a)pyrene- induced Colon Carcinogenesis by Resveratrol" on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 10 a.m. in the S.S. Kresge Learning Resource Center, Lecture Hall I.

She will receive her Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, along with a Certificate in Health Policy from Robert Wood Johnson at Meharry's Commencement Saturday, May 18, 2013. After graduation, Huderson plans to move to Washington, D.C. to pursue a post-doctorate program.