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Calvin Yeager selected to receive 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship

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April 10, 2018 – Calvin Yeager, a Graduate Student in the Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology Program has been selected to receive a 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellowship (GRFP). Yeager was notified of his fellowship on April 3rd of this year.

For the 2018 competition, the NSF received over 12,000 applications, and made 2,000 award offers. The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.


As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.

Before joining the BMMB program at Penn State, Yeager received his B.S. in Biochemistry at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. Yeager actively participated in the community as the vice president for both the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society and the Langmuir Chemical Society. Apart from his community involvement, he was also recognized as a John Christopher Hartwick scholar and graduated with departmental distinction.

Calvin Yeager 2018 GRFP Photo 1Yeager works in the Cameron Lab under the direction of Dr. Craig E. Cameron. Since its inception, the Cameron Lab’s primary goal has been the development of strategies to treat or to prevent infections by RNA viruses and diseases linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. The lab uses poliovirus as its primary model system. The expertise of the lab in the areas of virology, biochemistry and mechanistic enzymology brings a unique combination of intellectual and technical resources to the study of RNA viruses. Cameron Lab currently has projects in the following areas:  RNA-dependent RNA polymerase mechanism, Picornavirus genome replication, Flavivirus genome replication, Enzymology of the Flavivirus replicase, and Mitochondrial transcription and disease.

Yeager’s role within the Cameron Lab is to research the interactions between viral proteins and host membranes. Studying these interactions is possible by using a microfluidic assay developed jointly in the Cameron and Cremer Labs at Penn State.  With this award, Yeager hopes to redouble his efforts into his research for the Cameron Lab and Penn State.

When not in the lab, Yeager finds himself spending most of his time working in the U.R.I.S.E. Program.


The Undergraduate Research In Science and Engineering (U.R.I.S.E.) Program:

The Undergraduate Research In Science and Engineering (U.R.I.S.E.) Program, where Yeager is now the Graduate Head, was created by several undergraduate students in the Fall semester of 2015 and is facilitated by Dr. Vivek Kapur. The program takes 16 undergraduate students, Freshmen and Sophomores, and attempts to place them in research laboratories throughout campus. The goal is to bridge the gap that exists between student and researcher during their undergraduate careers.

The students within the program meet 11-13 weeks each semester for 3 hours a week. Each week the sessions are equally divided between lecture and lab. Faculty are invited to come and talk to students about each of their labs so that the students can understand the options that are available to them. “We try to make sure that there are undergraduates that get to participate and teach, there are undergraduates that get to participate and learn, and that there are graduate students who get their hands on a program of their own for the first time”, Yeager said of the program.

Since Yeager has become involved, 24 undergraduates get involved in research laboratories across campus.