GSU chemistry major awarded 2008 UNCF Merck research scholarship

Eual A. Phillips Jr., a Grambling State chemistry major, was awarded a $25,000 United Negro College Fund Merck Undergraduate Science Research scholarship for the 2008-09 academic year.
Phillips said that he had seen the scholarship pamphlet since he was a freshman. However, when he attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority students as a junior, the UNCF Special Programs representative told him that it was time for him to apply.
“I was hesitant, but chemistry professor Dr. Perry encouraged me saying, ‘It’s time to play with the big boys,'” said Phillips. “When I answered and discovered that it was the program director, Dr. Jerry L. Bryant, I knew it had to be good news,” he said.
As a scholarship recipient, Phillips attended the “Fellows Day” that was held in Blue Bell, Penn., on June 21- 25, 2008. Additionally, he will intern at a Merck research laboratory during the summers of 2008 and 2009 and receive additional compensation for these summer experiences.
Phillips said Fellows Day was a blast, and he felt like a Hollywood celebrity.
“The event surrounded provided me with a network of the smartest and down-to-earth black undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral faculty. The best moments of the event were bowling and playing sports with the other scholarship recipients; UNCF/Merck scholars are hardcore sports competitors.”
This summer Phillips is conducting research in bone fracture mechanics. The studies are to help in the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. As a Merck scientist in the Department of Imaging, he has been trained to use one out of a handful of advanced x-ray devices available around the world: the micro-computed tomography scanner. This device is used to develop three-dimensional images of bones and also calculate their densities.
“I am given enough independence to actually develop new laboratory protocols, since most of the techniques in my project have never been considered before. The training in advanced imaging techniques coupled with developed critical thinking skills will give me a competitive advantage when applying to materials science programs in graduate school,” said Phillips.
When he returns to Grambling, Phillips said that he should be able to transfer these skills to his studies in more difficult coursework, since chemistry involves a lot of problem analysis.
Phillips, from Bakersfield, Calif., is the son of GSU alumni Eual Phillips Sr. and Lorraine Walker.
He said his mother was elated when she learned about the scholarship. “She has always supported me in my educational endeavors. She always told me, ‘Don’t come home with anything less than what you are capable of doing,'” said Phillips.
The UNCF Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship award is a competitive award open to underrepresented groups pursuing degrees in science, engineering, and mathematics. Fifteen undergraduate awards were made to students representing universities throughout the United States. This award is to be used for tuition and fees.
As a component of this scholarship award, the chemistry department is eligible to apply for funds not to exceed $10,000. This money will be used to support Phillip’s involvement in a research project at GSU.