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Ebony Weems Grand Prize Winner

of Meharry's Research Day

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Ebony Weems, overall winner of Research Day

Congratulations to Ebony Weems, a Ph.D. candidate with the School of Graduate Studies and Research! Weems is the recipient of the Charles W. Johnson Sr., M.D. '53 Award, being named the overall winner of Meharry's 59th Annual Student Research Day.

Weems remembered her Atlanta roots, which led her to this day, when she learned she had won first prize. "I had a sixth grade science teacher named Miss Gaylord," she said. "She was my inspiration and the main reason I fell in love with science. One of our first experiments was mixing primary colors and trying to guess what color it would make. For some reason, that's when I knew I wanted a career in science. That's when everything clicked."

Earning her B.S. degree at Valdosta State University, Weems went on to get her master's degree from Alabama A&M University.

In 2014, she received the Southern Regional Educational Board state doctoral scholar dissertation fellowship and joined the Scientist in the Classroom Partnership through Vanderbilt University, as a scientist teaching fellow. This has allowed Weems to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to fourth graders in the Nashville Metro School System. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in STEM education. I enjoy everything about teaching," said Weems. "I love sharing my knowledge and education in research with all my students."

Meharry Medical College was one of the first medical schools to hold a student research day. Meharry's first, in 1956, was held in connection with its 80th anniversary.

Dr. Charles W. Johnson founded the program and Dr. Landry E. Burgess was its first chairman. Upon Dr. Burgess’ retirement, Dr. James A. Pulliam assumed the chair and held it until his death in January 1991. That year, the Student Research Day Committee unanimously voted to name the student research day lecture the James A. Pulliam Memorial Lecture. All students, residents and post-doctoral fellows in the Schools of Allied Health, Dentistry, Medicine and Graduate Studies and Research are invited to participate in the Annual Student Research Day.

See the complete list of winners!

Keynote speaker

Juanita Merchant, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Integrative and Molecular Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, gave the address at the Research Day's James A. Pulliam Memorial Lecture. Her topic was "Helicobacter, Hedgehog Signaling and the Initiation of Gastric Cancer."

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After her lecture, Dr. Merchant was presented with a plaque of appreciation from Dean Lima and the School of Graduate Studies and Research. She was also given a plaque, thanking her for attending Research Day, which was presented to her by Joseph Smith, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate who tied for second place in the PhD Advance category.

Dr. Merchant offered three vital suggestions for success to those who are pursuing a Ph.D./M.D. degree: "You have to have passion for what you do; you must be persistent and tenacious and you have to find a mentor who you will have synergy with, one who will help you open doors."

Read Dr. Merchant's bio.