PhD candidate receives Presidential Fellowship from university

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May 12, 2020

Ermias Addo
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Ermias Mekuria Addo was awarded a Presidential Fellowship by The Ohio State University Graduate School for Autumn 2020. The Presidential Fellowship is the most competitive and prestigious scholarly recognition provided by the Graduate School. It recognizes outstanding scholarship and research ability and provides recipients the opportunity to devote full-time effort to their dissertation research.

Addo is a fourth-year PhD candidate and graduate teaching assistant under the supervision of A. Douglas Kinghorn, PhD, DSc, professor and Jack L. Beal Chair in the College of Pharmacy Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy. He earned a Master of Science in Pharmacognosy and Bachelor of Pharmacy at Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Led by Dr. Kinghorn as the principal investigator, Addo is involved in a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional P01 project funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). The project is focused on anticancer drug discovery from tropical (medicinal) plants from diverse origin: tropical plants, lichens, aquatic cyanobacteria and filamentous fungi.

“It has been a long time since I have had such a productive graduate student who has been resident in the in the PhD program for only three-and-a-half years,” Dr. Kinghorn said in his nomination letter. “I have now supervised or co-supervised directly about 50 graduate students over the course of my academic career and I would place Ermias as among the top 5% of this group.”

The fellowship includes a monthly stipend and a fee authorization to pay academic tuition and fees, as well as a travel allowance to be used during the fellowship to help defray expenses connected with presentations of dissertation research at professional meetings.

“I was very thrilled when I heard that I was a winner of this prestigious award,” Addo said. “Especially during this time of crisis, where there is uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what news could be better than hearing that I was one of the recipients of this prestigious award?”

Addo knows the advantages that awards like the Presidential Fellowship allow. He is also a recipient of the Dr. Raymond W. Doskotch Graduate Fellowship for the 2019-20 academic year, which supports graduate students in the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy whose research emphasizes natural product chemistry.

The Presidential Fellowship will allow Addo to spend his time finalizing the structural and biological characterization of isolated compounds in Dr. Kinghorn’s lab.

“Support from the fellowship will give me more time to be in the lab to perform my research without interruption from other duties,” Addo said. “This is especially critical since I am entering my last year before graduation, which will involve mainly finishing experiments and data collection, and writing and defending my dissertation.”

Addo credits his advisor, Dr. Kinghorn, for his continuous mentorship, beginning from the time he took Addo on as a PhD student through his support with applications to this and other fellowships.

“Being one of the PhD students under Dr. Kinghorn is really a great honor by itself,” Addo said. “I am also grateful to Dr. Liva Rakotondraibe for his assistance and advice in my research, and to my other two graduate committee advisors, Drs. Esperanza Carcache de Blanco and James Fuchs.”