Hettiarachchi Outstanding Student Award Recipients
PRINCESS ANNE, MD- In honor of her late parents, Apsara Hettiarachchi donated $1,000 to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to be awarded to a high-achieving student in the Department of Natural Sciences.
Hettiarachchi, who is currently earning her doctorate in food science and technology from the university and serving as a lecturer in the Department of National Sciences, says her parents, Peter and Chandra Hettiarachchi, always encouraged her to “support others,” while growing up in Sri Lanka.
“I got a lot of support from UMES, so I didn’t have to struggle,” said the Princess Anne resident, who relocated to the United States to earn her master’s degree in food and agricultural sciences from UMES more than five years ago. “Now, I want to give back to the college.”
The Peter and Chandra Hettiarachchi Outstanding Student in the Department of Natural Sciences Award will be shared by two students, Nerissa McKenzie and Oniel N. Gardner.
Each will receive $500.
McKenzie is a graduating senior majoring in biology and a MARC U*(STAR) scholar. She has demonstrated excellence in research during her undergraduate career. McKenzie has also presented her research at many regional and national scientific conferences such as the annual Undergraduate Research Symposia at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.
Later this month, she will present at the annual American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Conference and the UMES Research Symposium.
McKenzie participates in the Biology Society for which she has served as secretary and vice-president. She is interviewing for admission to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to pursue the doctoral degree in biomedical sciences in the fall of 2010.
Gardner is also a graduating senior majoring in biology and a MARC U*STAR Scholar. He has demonstrated strong leadership, scholarship and service qualities in his career at UMES. He maintains an overall grade point average of 3.36.
Gardner has successfully presented his research at many regional and national scientific conferences. He won first place at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He also earned second place at the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Phoenix Arizona last year.
Gardner has been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Iowa to pursue a doctoral degree in biochemistry and the University of California Berkley National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in Cell, Developmental and Evolutionary Biology.
Candice Evans, UMES Office of Public Relations, (410) 651-6669, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, (410) 651-7580, email@example.com
Pictured from left, Nerissa McKenzie and Oniel N. Gardner were awarded the Peter and Chandra Hettiarachchi Outstanding Student in the Department of Natural Sciences Award.