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START Alum Named Magnuson Scholar

START Alum Named Magnuson Scholar

Erica Lokken, START alumna and doctoral candidate in the University of Washington’s Department of Epidemiology, was named a 2017-2018 Magnuson Scholar.  Each year, the Magnuson Scholars Program recognizes one graduate student in each of the six UW Health Sciences schools who excels both in their academics and in research. Erica will receive $30,000 toward her education in the 2017-2018 academic school year.

Erica was a research assistant with the START Center while completing her MS in Epidemiology from 2013-2015. During this time Erica completed a thesis that was awarded the University-wide Distinguished Master’s Thesis for the Biological/Life Sciences. Her project used data from a prospective cohort study of high-risk women in Mombasa, Kenya to test the hypothesis that bacterial vaginosis (BV) is associated with increased risk of Mycoplasma genitalium infection. Her manuscript is currently in press in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Erica, now in the second year of her PhD program, is currently setting up a study under START Faculty Mentor Dr. Scott McClelland in Nairobi, Kenya that assesses the impact of periconceptual vaginal microbiota on risk of preterm birth. Erica’s dissertation, nested within this parent study, investigates how disruption of the vaginal microbiota is associated with time to pregnancy.

“The Magnuson Scholarship will provide me with the freedom of time to focus on being a student researcher and to develop grants to support the addition of molecular testing of vaginal samples that are not currently being tested as part of the parent study,” Erica says. “This would enhance my dissertation research by exploring mechanistic links that could explain an association between bacterial vaginosis and fertility.”

This is an excerpt from the Department of Epidemiology article.