Daniel Moussa has long been interested in the sciences, and his background in sports has led him to focus on the “silent epidemic” of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which are often the results of sports accidents. “As someone who plays sports, I am aware of the dangers of concussions, which are a type of TBI, and their long-term effects,” Daniel stated.
Because there are no current proactive strategies to treat this common yet highly overlooked ailment, working on possible treatments in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Godbout was an exciting proposition for Daniel. As part of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Department of Neuroscience, Dr. Godbout researches methods to reduce the short- and long-term damage of TBIs. Through the Undergraduate Education Summer Research Fellowship, Daniel’s current research, covered in part by an Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) Undergraduate Research Grant, involves examining how multiple doses of methylene blue, a known antioxidant and antidepressant, can affect the treatment of depressive-like behavior and lack of motor coordination associated with a secondary insult (such as an infection) one month after a TBI. This research has garnered some interest: Daniel, together with graduate student Ashley Fenn, now a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, recently published a paper on methylene blue as a potential treatment strategy in the Journal of Neurotrauma.
With such a strong interest in the biomedical sciences, Daniel was pleased to discover the Ohio Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Alliance – established through a five-year, $3.5 million National Science Foundation grant – that seeks to increase underrepresented student success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Housed in ODI, the Ohio State serves as the lead institution, creating a partnership among alliance institutions and industry and community partners to create collaborative, effective, and sustainable programming. Impacting students well beyond grant funding, the Alliance will work to double the number of bachelor’s degrees completed in STEM fields at partner institutions within five years.
With its structured workshops, goal-oriented programming, and collaboration with the National Science Foundation, the Ohio LSAMP Alliance was a perfect fit for Daniel. “LSAMP’s broad curriculum of STEM panels and networking opportunities, as well as its group of diverse, excited, like-minded scholars were large contributors in my decision to apply to become an Ohio LSAMP Scholar,” Daniel commented.
Daniel, as part of ODI’s Morrill Scholars Program (MSP), is also involved with helping other Scholars through the Community Connections Research Sub-Committee. Community Connections, which started in ODI last fall, is a group of 40 Morrill Scholars who work together to plan events throughout the year that encourage other MSP Scholars to participate in the research community at Ohio State, specifically the Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. “I hope that my position in the Research Sub-Committee aids me in guiding like-minded peers through the web of opportunities and advancements offered at Ohio State. As an LSAMP scholar trained in research, I look forward to leading by example and being a valuable source to students who are interested in STEM fields,” Daniel said.
Being involved with both LSAMP and ODI has greatly enriched Daniel’s academic experience at Ohio State. “Without ODI’s efforts to bond and develop with the community, I would not have known of opportunities that fit my goals and interests such as Community Connections and LSAMP. And through my involvement in LSAMP, I have become more aware of the variety of opportunities available for me at Ohio State.”
Daniel is majoring in Biomedical Science and will be graduating in 2016. After graduation, he plans to attend medical school or an MD/PhD program.
The Ohio LSAMP Alliance is committed to promoting all underrepresented STEM students’ academic success, undergraduate research, and continuation to graduate study through collaborative programming and partnerships. Each year, 20 students from Ohio State’s incoming freshman class are selected to be part of the LSAMP Scholars program with the goal that all students will participate through graduation. Underrepresented students admitted to a STEM major at Ohio State are invited to submit an application discussing their interest in their major and future goals. For more information about the Ohio LSAMP Alliance, click here.