Summer means full-time in the lab for undergrad Haley Gillham

Haley Gillham, an undergraduate student from Damascus, Ore., is spending the summer working full time for 10 weeks in the lab of her mentor Jeffrey Gilbert, assistant professor of human physiology. Next spring, she'll be off to Boston for the 2013 annual meeting of Experimental Biology.

Her expenses are covered.

Gillham is among national recipients of the 2012 American Physiological Society Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

"This is really a great opportunity for me, because there are 24 people from across the nation who get this award," said Gillham as she stood by her poster at the second annual Undergraduate Symposium on May 24. "You get to collaborate with them, which is really cool because you get to find out about other research that is going on in physiology."

Gillham, who just completed her junior year, is pursuing research on preeclampsia, a condition in which blood pressure rises and excess protein accumulates in the urine of pregnant women, raising potentially fatal consequences for both the mother and baby.

"During the normal school year, I have to have class and go to labs," she said. "I'll be right in the middle of an experiment and have to hand it off to someone else to finish. Over the summer, I'll be able to stick with my lab work, without interruptions, and see my experiments through to the end."

Gillham worked this past year as a teaching assistant in organic chemistry, said Gilbert, whose lab is funded through grants from National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association.

 "Haley's strong background in chemistry is a real asset in my physiology lab, since we run a wide variety of biochemical assays as we test physiological hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying fetal growth restriction and hypertension during preeclampsia."

The Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship program that is supporting Gillham this summer was established in 2000 as an initiative of the Career Opportunities in Physiology Committee and APS Council. The fellowship provides a $4,000 stipend and another $1,300 toward travel and lodging for the Experimental Biology conference.