Home Faculty meeting WVU Class of 2022 of Ruby Fellows Chosen for Postgraduate Research Funding | Today

WVU Class of 2022 of Ruby Fellows Chosen for Postgraduate Research Funding | Today


Driven by a shared passion for scientific discovery, four promising researchers pursuing doctoral studies at West Virginia University receive funding from the Ruby Scholars Graduate Fellows Program to support their studies.

This year’s Ruby Fellows are Cameron Wilson, Ashley Martsen, Courtney Glenn and Quinn Hopen. Each student will receive a $34,000 stipend, a $2,000 travel grant, and a tuition waiver to enable them to continue their research at WVU.

Established in 2011 by the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, the fellowship provides financial support that allows new doctoral-level scholars to devote themselves fully to expanding their studies and using their research for the benefit of the people of WVU. , the nation and the world. Applicants should be pursuing graduate studies in one of the following fields: Energy and Environmental Sciences, Biological, Biotechnical and Biomedical Sciences, or Biometrics, Nanotechnology and Materials Science, Security, Detection, Forensic Sciences and related identification technologies.

“WVU is fortunate to have the support of the Ruby Fellows program and the exceptional students it brings to our campus,” said Maryanne Reed, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “This year’s scholarship recipients embody the excellence, resilience and curiosity of the mountaineers we value. These scholars have already made significant progress in their own lives and are poised to be agents of change in their communities and in the world.

Cameron Wilson

Buckhannon native Cameron Wilson first identified the symbiotic association between plant roots and fungi as a young single mother struggling to make ends meet. After becoming homeless, she took her son camping to teach him new skills and cope with their difficult circumstances. Those experiences in the woods resonated years later as she explored educational opportunities, which led her to pursue a doctorate in biology at WVU.

“The skills I learned in those tough times made me someone I never realized I had the ability to be,” Wilson said. “I learned resilience and how to be self-sufficient.”

After working various jobs in food service, retail and child care, Wilson was referred to an adult learning program called SPOKES – Strategic Career Knowledge Planning for Employment and Success. She completed the six-week course in two weeks and scored high on state tests, prompting her advisers to recommend higher education.

Wilson enrolled at West Virginia Wesleyan College where she learned about mycorrhizal associations—the plant-fungus relationship she observed in nature—and the growing research on the subject. She then worked with her mentor Katharine Gregg and others to further her knowledge and gain research experience as she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in ecology and environmental science.

Wilson will complete his doctoral work with Craig Barrett, assistant professor in the Department of Biology. After graduation, she plans to focus her career on conservation efforts, using mycorrhizal associations to mitigate the damage caused by human activity in the Appalachian region.

Ashley Martsen

After graduating from home school, Ashley Martsen never intended to go to college. instead, she got a job as a cashier at age 17. Yet she was inspired to dream bigger by a colleague who did her chemistry homework during slow shifts and Martsen is now chasing the stars, literally, as a physics PhD student at WVU.

Originally from southwestern Massachusetts, Martsen began her graduate studies at nearby Berkshire Community College, where she became familiar with a classroom setting and rediscovered her childhood interest in space. After earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts, she transferred to the Rochester Institute for Technology in New York.

While Martsen doubted herself amid early academic challenges, her unique educational journey ultimately helped her complete her bachelor’s degree in physics with minors in astronomy, Italian language, math, and English. She also conducted extensive undergraduate research in astrophysics, working with scholars – including a former WVU postdoctoral fellow – who highly recommended her to her WVU colleagues.

Much of Martsen’s research has focused on pulsars, spinning neutron stars that emit pulses of electromagnetic radiation.

“The more time I spend learning about pulsars, the more I realize that I enjoy working with real data to better understand what’s happening at the pulsar,” Martsen said. “WVU is the perfect place for me to pursue a Ph.D. because the strong presence of pulsars, fast radio bursts and the search for gravitational waves will allow me to explore my passions.

Courtney Glen

Courtney Glenn’s passion for discovery and problem solving led her to chemistry as a freshman at the University of South Alabama, where she gained valuable experience through undergraduate research, education and community awareness. Now, she’s pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at WVU as she seeks to reinvent chemistry education for a new generation.

“My goal is to become a representative of a STEM minority and develop a new vision for the applications of teaching methodologies within the chemistry community to reduce negative stereotypes associated with STEM content,” said Glenn, a native of Semmes, Alabama.

Glenn’s interest shifted to education after becoming an additional instructor for general chemistry classes and becoming involved in research targeting teaching methods and student outcomes. She presented research focused on chemistry education at the American Chemical Society’s Southeast Regional Meeting, where she spoke with Gregory Dudley, Eberly Family Professor Emeritus and Chair of the Department of chemistry C. Eugene Bennett of the WVU.

Dudley shared plans to expand chemical education research at WVU, and Glenn was drawn to research by faculty members Margaret Hilton, Jessica Hoover, and Michelle Richards-Babb that matched her experience and ambitions.

“WVU has a progressive chemistry department where I see myself thriving and growing as a researcher in the field of chemical education,” Glenn said.

Quinn Hopen

Originally from Sutton, Quinn Hopen came to WVU as an undergraduate majoring in immunology. She was struck by the incredible impact tiny cells and molecules can have on overall health, often with varying results in different people, and sought to find out more.

Hopen took advantage of various undergraduate research opportunities, which eventually led her to the lab of mentor Jennifer Franko. After earning her bachelor’s degree in immunology and medical microbiology in May 2021, Hopen was hired as a full-time research technician in Franko’s lab, where much of her work focused on sex-specific differences in the immune response.

Hopen will continue to work under Franko as an accelerated doctoral student in the School of Medicine. program in immunology and microbial pathogenesis.

“A culmination of collaborative opportunities, the breadth of groundbreaking studies found at WVU, and the strong support system I have within the Franko Lab will in every way prepare me to eventually lead my own academic research lab,” Hopen said. “The examples of community and care displayed by faculty will shape me to one day become a [principal investigator] who is understanding and inclusive, and the passion for discovery at WVU will only advance my own knowledge and skills, pushing me to seek out my deepest questions and curiosities.

The Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust established the Ruby Scholars Graduate Fellows program in memory of its namesake. Hazel Ruby McQuain was involved in philanthropic giving to support WVU for more than 20 years before she died at the age of 93 in 2002. One of her many gifts includes an $8 million donation for the construction of the JW Ruby Memorial Hospital, named after her late husband.



Senior Communications Specialist
WVU Foundation
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