Three Biology Students selected for Mizzou 39

The Division of Biological Sciences congratulates Andrew Jones, Benjamin Jones, and Sierra Nelson on being selected as three of the 39 recipients of the prestigious Mizzou 39 Award.

The award, given by the Mizzou Alumni Association Student Board, recognizes 39 outstanding seniors across all majors for academic achievement, leadership and service to the University of Missouri and the community. The new members were announced on March 3.

“This award is very humbling to me. It is an incredible feeling to have had such an impact on the university and the community. I am so thankful for everyone who has been there to support me and challenge me along the way. Every opportunity has helped me to grow and learn. This award teaches me to keep working toward goals and always strive for success. With determination, anything is possible!”

Andrew Jones

Hometown: Hebron, Kentucky

Activities/Honors: Honors College; IMSD Fellow; Dataphiles; Brooks Scholar, Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, and a volunteer at Columbia Urgent Care.

Undergraduate Research Project: Resource allocation and life history traits in fruit flies

Plans after graduation: Andrew is heading to medical school to pursue his interests in pathology and radiology.

Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth King, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Dr. King praised Jones as an accomplished scientist and leader, writing: “Andrew has been in my lab since his first year here at Mizzou. From day one, the lab has been better simply by virtue of him being a part of it. He has grown into an accomplished scientist during his time in the lab, taking on multiple ambitious research projects, one of which will soon be submitted for publication. Not only is Andrew always ready for a challenge, he is always ready to inspire other lab members to set big goals and to help them reach those goals. I have no doubt he will exhibit the same leadership skills in medical school. I could not be more proud of him.”

“This award means so much to me. As a Mizzou Legacy student and a member of an entire family of Mizzou Tigers, it is such an honor to be recognized among so many deserving students and leaders at such an incredible university. Mizzou has always been home for me, and it's amazing to be recognized for making an impact on such a strong community over these last four years.”

Benjamin Jones

Hometown: Hebron, Kentucky

Activities/Honors: Honors College; IMSD Express Peer Mentor; Mizzou FIG PLA (Teaching Assistant); Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (Vice President and Treasurer); Mizzou Pre-Med Society

Undergraduate Research Project: The role of metalloproteases in vascular dysfunction during Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Plans after graduation: Ben is heading to medical school.

Mentor: Dr. Erika Boerman, Assistant Professor of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology

Dr. Boerman lauded Jones’ skills in the lab as well as his dedication to his project. “Ben began working in my laboratory as a sophomore and quickly became an essential part of the lab team. He has mastered very difficult techniques involving hand dissection and advanced microscopy of blood vessels not much larger than a human hair. He has presented several abstracts of his independent project looking at the role of metalloproteases in vascular dysfunction during Inflammatory Bowel Disease, one of which won the Outstanding Poster Presentation Award at the national ABRCMS meeting. He has also successfully applied for and received an IMSD Fellowship (2019-2020), a MARC Fellowship (2020-2021), and a summer research fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Ben is incredibly dedicated to his project. He is always prepared, on time, focused on his work, and helpful to others in the lab. Ben recently coauthored one manuscript and will have authorship on at least two more after graduation. I have enjoyed watching his development as a researcher and have no doubt that he will make an exceptional clinician-scientist in the future.”

"Being selected for Mizzou '39 is a tremendous honor. I remember hearing about it my freshman year and dreaming of being selected, and now, here I am. I feel as though the university has recognized my hard work and commitment to excellence and the community. I also feel that this honor is a way I can say thank you to all who invested in me up to this point. I wouldn't be here without them, so I view this award as a collaborative achievement!"

Sierra Nelson

Hometown: Rockford, Illinois

Activities/Honors: Mizzou Pre-PA Association; Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority Inc; 2020 Mary Margaret McCarty Outstanding Junior Scholar in Biological Sciences Award; 2020 Homecoming Top 10

Plans after graduation: Sierra plans to participate in various internships and potentially shadow abroad before going on for a Masters in Physician Assistant (MPA) practice and a Masters in Public Health.

Mentor: Dr. David Schulz, Professor and Director of Biological Sciences

Dr. Schulz characterized Nelson as a "one of a kind student" who excels across all aspects of her work. "She's accomplished in the classroom, she performed a cutting-edge summer research project in spinal cord development at the University of Minnesota, and has been involved in patient-facing responsibilities in the hospital during the pandemic just to name a few. Accompanying this spectrum of excellence through experiences is her ability to lead by elevating all of those around her. I don't know many people like Sierra, and I am so glad to see her recognized for the totality of what she has accomplished.”