Rhodes rising junior Ellie Fratt is a 2016 recipient of the B.A. Rudolph Foundation’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Scholarship, which is making it possible for her this summer to continue previous research conducted at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Fratt’s passion for the sciences developed at an early age while growing up in the small town of Ashland, WI. She says she was more interested in taking the heart rate of her dolls than dressing them in new clothes. At the age of 12, she required medical attention herself after being diagnosed with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). She underwent eight invasive surgeries on her femur and spent years in and out of hospitals but was determined to fight the illness.
“My illness was one of the most formative experiences of life,” she says. “It gave me a more intimate view of the health care system and potential career paths, and I’ve been hooked on medicine ever since then.”
Fratt eventually recovered, and while attending Ashland High School, she was involved in the school’s chapter of the NASA/ITARP Student Archive Research Program, a collaboration between NASA and high schools around the nation that allows students to conduct novel research in tandem with professional scientists. She continued to take science classes throughout high school and had already decided on a career in neuroscience by graduation.
After enrolling in Rhodes in 2014, Fratt landed a position in the St. Jude Summer-Plus Fellowship, which provides an intensive research experience by pairing Rhodes students with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists for one summer, one academic year, and a possible second summer. Fratt has been working in the lab of Dr. Phil Potter of St. Jude’s Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics. Their anticancer research involves the interactions between drugs and natural products. As a result of that research, Fratt earned a 2016 Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention and now the STEM Scholarship.
First awarded by the B.A. Rudolph Foundation in 2015, the scholarship is for female undergraduates preparing to enter a profession in the sciences, who are applying to or have secured an unpaid or underpaid internship in a related field. The intention of the scholarship is to cover the cost of living and some travel expenses. Fratt will use the scholarship to continue research in the Potter lab.
At Rhodes, Fratt is majoring in neuroscience with a minor in religious studies. She also tutors statistics and is passionate about mental health awareness and advocacy. After graduation, she plans to pursue a dual MD/PhD degree and go into translational research in neuroscience or fetal/neonatal medicine.