Broad summer student named 2010 Rhodes Scholar

Alice McCarthy, December 9th, 2010
  • Esther Uduehi - 2010 Rhodes Scholar

Among the recent 32 undergraduate students named as 2010 Rhodes Scholars is Esther Uduehi, currently a senior at Indiana University-Bloomington majoring in biochemistry and mathematics.The Broad hosted Esther and nine other undergraduates in the summer of 2009 as part of the annual Summer Research Program in Genomics (SRPG). While participating in the nine-week internship for minority college students interested in genomics-based graduate work, Esther was mentored by Broad researchers involved in the Chemical Biology program.

The Broad met Esther early in 2008 at the New England Science Symposium, a workshop series sponsored by Harvard Medical School for undergraduate and high school students interested in careers as research scientists. “It was evident then that she is a highly talented young woman with very clear goals and excellent research skills,” says Eboney Smith, Program Director of the Broad’s Diversity Initiative. Esther participated in the 2009 SRPG program in the summer after her sophomore year.

“I came to the Broad because I wanted to study chemistry in combination with medical applications,” says Esther. “When I learned about chemical genomics research, it was clear that the Broad summer program was the perfect program for me.” Esther plans on a career as a physician while also maintaining a vibrant research laboratory.

While at the Broad, Esther worked in the group’s chemical compound synthesis group. There she optimized chemical reactions, including new methods for making chemical compounds or potential new drugs. “I’ve been using the skills I learned at the Broad in the summer of 2009 since I returned to IU,” says Esther who has been working on an independent research project ever since with these skills as the foundation of her research method.

Smith and her colleagues were impressed by the caliber of Esther’s work. “The Broad’s SRPG program is very rigorous and Esther excelled by all standards,” says Smith. “I believe Esther is going to accomplish so much as she continues to learn and apply her knowledge of what it takes to be a successful physician-scientist.”

“The SRPG program is a very unique program because it caters to a broad range of undergraduate students from around the country who are all working on varied projects,” says Esther. “I really got what I wanted out of the program and I know that it catered to the research interests of the other students in the program as well.”

Esther’s experience at the Broad helped her realize she could successfully complete a large independent research project. “That time at the Broad helped hone my focus of what I wanted to explore in graduate school and ultimately in my professional career,” she adds.

In addition to the SRPG program, high school students are invited to the Broad Institute each summer to take part in the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Sciences (MITES) program. Students can participate in the high school program during the summer before their senior year. SRPG was launched in the summer of 2003 and is available to undergraduates following their freshman, sophomore or junior year. To date, 40 undergraduates have taken advantage of this unique paid mentoring opportunity. Esther is the second Rhodes Scholar to have been a part of the Broad’s summer research diversity programs. Harvard University’s Jean Junior, named a 2009 Rhodes Scholar, participated in both the MITES and SRPG programs.

If you or someone you know may be interested in learning more about the Broad’s summer research programs for underrepresented minority students, visit our diversity website.