Heading into his third year of doctoral studies in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, PJ Jarquin has his eyes on a career as a scientist at a federal research agency.
Now he has the support of the American Society of Hematology to help him get there. Jarquin has won a 2021 Minority Hematology Graduate Award, which includes two years of funding from the professional society for stipends and research costs along with connections to mentors and other researchers studying blood and blood disorders.
“This award gives me a chance to conduct independent research that will hopefully lead to a career in transforming hematological research into engineered solutions to treat hematological disorders,” Jarquin said. “I see this as a stepping stone for enhanced mentoring and professional activities that are usually more difficult for Hispanic students, like myself, to access.”
The Minority Hematology Graduate Award encourages graduate students from historically underrepresented minority groups to pursue careers in academic hematology, according to the society. It comes with society membership, invitations to present research, and opportunities to meet leaders in the field.
Jarquin studies red blood cell development in health and disease with Coulter BME Professor Sakis Mantalaris and Nicki Panoskaltsis in the Emory University School of Medicine. He previously received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and an Emory Centennial Scholars Fellowship.
“What makes my training in the field of hematology and biomedical engineering unique is the partnership between my mentors — Dr. Panoskaltsis is a physician practicing hemato-oncology and Dr. Mantalaris is a bioprocess engineer — a partnership that is made possible by our joint BME program between Georgia Tech and Emory,” Jarquin said. “The unique mentor setup of tackling complex hematological processes from both a clinical standpoint and an engineering standpoint was a highlight in why I was given the award.”
As Jarquin uses this latest award to work toward his goal of a federal research position, he’s also keeping his eyes on his true mission: to make a real difference in the lives of Hispanic Americans.
“There is a lack of minority scientists in [federal agency research] roles, which leads to gaps in the research areas pursued,” he said. “With more minority scientists at the helm in our federal government, this will lead to more equitable research being pursued and, then, better health outcomes for these populations.