Julia Halo receives Elliott L. Blinn Award
BGSU assistant professor praised for 'preparing students for graduate or medical school, being an approachable role model'
“I have been particularly rewarded to watch students develop and advance to positions in top graduate programs, biomedical research and research assistantships.”
Dr. Julia Halo, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a 2021 Elliott L. Blinn Award for Faculty-Undergraduate Student Innovative Basic Research/Creative Work.
Halo's research, which is conducted with significant participation by both graduate and undergraduate students at Bowling Green State University, has focused on reaching a better understanding of host-virus evolution and how certain DNA sequences are altered, resulting in mutations and changes in genetic identity.
In their letter of endorsement for Halo's consideration for this distinction, Drs. Vipa Phuntumart, Shannon Pelini, Christopher Ward and Robert Huber from the Department of Biological Sciences cited her ability to not just bring her students into the research work but to make them important contributors to the synergy in her lab.
“Dr. Halo has a gift for connecting with her advisees and other undergraduates,” her colleagues said, adding that Halo's students “praise her for preparing them for graduate or medical school, being an approachable role model, enthusiastically connecting course material to her research program, and making personal connections with students.”
Malika Day, a 2018 BGSU graduate and a former research assistant in Halo's lab, said the experience she gained working with Halo was instrumental in Day's development as a student and that the “opportunity to make scientific discoveries” under Halo sparked Day's desire to pursue and earn a Master of Science in biology and biomedical sciences.
“Dr. Halo was diligent and patient while training me to become a competent undergraduate researcher,” said Day, who was the first BGSU student to join Halo's lab. “Dr. Halo fostered a supportive learning environment with her openness to all questions and ideas and challenged me to become a more critical thinker, which resulted in my ability to solve problems that arose and continue to perform my research duties.”
Erica Cech, a 2019 graduate, recounted similar experiences as the foundation for her work as a laboratory scientist was put in place while working on research with Halo.
“Throughout my experience in her lab, I fell in love with science and research,” said Cech, who now works as a lab manager for two world-renowned scientists at the University of Michigan. “Dr. Halo has given me so many educational opportunities and encouraged me to grow as a student.”
Cech said the atmosphere in Halo's lab encouraged and fostered learning and creative thinking, and students found it to be a place where constructive feedback and guidance foster true educational development.
“I was challenged with many projects involving genotyping cell lines, tissue culture and gene cloning,” Cech said. “Throughout my time in the Halo Lab, I earned my honors thesis, a CURS grant, co-authorship on a pending publication, and, most importantly, a job after graduation.”
Halo, who holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Tufts University, joined the BGSU faculty in 2016. She said her approach to faculty-student collaborative and creative research grew out of her experiences as an undergraduate researcher working closely with her faculty mentors.
“I strive to influence students’ excitement for discovery, creative and critical thinking skills, and professional development to initiate opportunities in their own future career decisions and successes,” Halo said. “I have been particularly rewarded to watch students develop and advance to positions in top graduate programs, biomedical research and research assistantships.”
Updated: 04/20/2021 01:03PM