Thank You Note to Science Faculty

The following note was sent to Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology and Director of the Minority Health International Training (MHIRT) program.

Behind the success and all my accolades stands Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and the MHIRT Program. It has been said that those who truly know us, are the people who impact our lives the most. In my case, this is not true. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald did not know me, but has incredibly shaped, accelerated, and perpetuated my life through the help of MHIRT Program.

Like most minorities, I didn’t come from a long line of wealth and success. I came from a disadvantaged background, both environmentally and economically. These disadvantages contain factors, which inhibited growth and therefore the abilities to succeed academically and professionally. Just to give insight, I came from a low-income family, low exposure to various cultures, never been on a plane, never seen the ocean, and struggled in high school. However, despite the hurdles, I was determined to succeed and quickly gravitated to the field of biology and life sciences.

During my early years in college, my interest grew to include neurobiology and molecular pharmacology. In my sophomore year, I had an opportunity to work in the anatomy and neurobiology research department at UT Health Science Center under the supervision of Dr. Kristen Hamre. This research provided information in neurobiological problems relative to premature ethanol exposure. In my final year of college, I wasn’t really satisfied with my academic career. I felt like any other undergraduate student seeking a bachelor’s degree with nothing really distinguished me. It was like I was moving in the right direction, but my wheels where spinning in the same place. The feeling didn’t really go away until I was introduced to the MHIRT program at Christian Brothers University though a friend.

With that being said, I applied to the MHIRT Program, interviewed, and was given an opportunity to participate in one the nation’s most astounding international research internships. I gladly accepted this opportunity and was assigned to Dr. Antonio Padua Carobrez at Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina located in Florianopolis, SC Brazil. This research, pharmacology, primarily focused on the affects of beta-blockers, on Long Evans Hooded rats in two anxiety models, cat odor and elevated plus maze. The goal of this research was to provide information on the actions and differences between anxiolytic drugs, propranolol and nadolol, and their involvement in behavioral responses.

This experience impacted me tremendously. I learned about micro-analytical procedures, advanced instrumentation, ethics, experimental design, scientific writing, data interpretation, and oral scientific presentation. Overall, this training has helped me solidify and refined pervious lab techniques plus gain invaluable skills and principles. It also help clear some doubts and insecurities about research and techniques, while expanding my experience.

Post-graduation, MHIRT has open many doors of opportunity for me. This experience has definitely made me a more viable candidate in the job market. Since graduation, I have conducted invertebrate genes research in Lille, France with Dr. Jacapo Vizioli. Later, I was recruited by a fortune 500 company and took many leadership roles in Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs. Subsequently, I worked as a Facility Microbiologist and then started my own Pathogenic testing laboratory. I have worked with leaders within the biotech industry such as BioMeriueux, the creators of VIDAS and VITEK. Furthermore, I worked on validation studies with the Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal, Quebec Canada. Currently I have accepted a position with United States Food and Drug Administration as a Regulatory Microbiologist and Expert Witness. MHIRT has made outstanding contributions to my career and success.

I am truly thankful and honored to have participated in such an amazing program. I have gain so much academically, scientifically, and culturally. Dr. Fitzgerald and MHIRT have taken me from a disadvantage to an extreme advantage. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Annette Diggs