The Biology Award for Excellence in honor of Darrell R. Stokes recognizes a Biology major who has made significant contributions to the Department of Biology and the broader Emory Community. The winner, Uma Alappan, was a Robert W. Woodruff Merit Scholar on the pre-med track. Uma graduated with highest honors in Biology (BS) for her work with the Emory School of Medicine lab of Dr. George R. Beck studying the effect of dietary phosphorus on incidence of lung cancer metastasis to bone. Because Uma has studied dietary phosphorus for over 6 years and has nationally presented & published her work in national professional societies like the American Society of Nephrology, her thesis is a culmination of years of hard work. During her 3rd year at Emory, Uma was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society — America’s most prestigious academic honors society with appreciation for success in liberal arts and sciences education.
Uma also has a passion for teaching/education and served as a Teaching Assistant for Human Physiology, Developmental Biology, and Chemistry across 7 semesters at Emory. She also serves as a mentor for students pursuing research as a Research Ambassador for Emory Undergraduate Research Programs (URP). In 2021, Uma succeeded after 4 years of work to establish a national Mentor-Mentee Match Program with the American Society of Nephrology where students from across the country can match with a medical professional to receive guidance, support, and opportunities in their pursuit of future careers in science and medicine.
Because Uma’s research in 2017-2018 with the Food & Drug Administration revealed a correlation between education level and poor selection of beverages in adolescents nationwide, Uma began to give lectures both in-person and via Zoom at local schools in her hometown Columbus, GA and Atlanta, GA to educate children & adolescents about the importance of nutrition, phosphorus, and kidneys. Apart from singing in Concert Choir, Uma’s passion for music & her piano background allows her to compose music & perform in-person and virtually for local non-profits and healthcare organizations.
During her gap year before medical school, Uma plans to continue research with Dr. Beck in the Emory School of Medicine, and travel abroad to explore & perform volunteer work. She hopes to pursue further her passion for music & performance and is looking to professionally record her compositions.