Five ASU students receive Gilman scholarships to study abroad

January 2, 2015

Five Arizona State University undergraduates have been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad.

The students are among 800 American undergraduate students from 356 college and universities across the U.S. to receive the scholarship, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The scholarship will allow the students to study abroad during the spring 2015 semester. Download Full Image

The recipients are:

• Joseph Cheng, an anthropology major, who received $5,000 to study in Taiwan
• Gabriela Jimenez, an honors student majoring in nutrition and French, who received $4,000 to study in France
• Michael Kim, an honors student majoring in biophysics, who received $2,000 to study in Canada
• Karen Mier, an honors student majoring in psychology, who received $5,000 to study in Argentina
• Cristian Payan, who received $4,500 to study in the United Kingdom

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the ranks of students who study and intern abroad, and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies – making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the Hours Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be contributors, rather than spectators in the international community.”

The program is administered by the Institute of International Education.

According to Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the institute, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”

The Gilman Scholarship Program is one of many study abroad opportunities for which ASU students can apply. ASU students can study abroad through over 250 programs in more than 55 countries facilitated by the Study Abroad Office. More information can be found at

The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarship Advisement, housed at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, assists students from all ASU campuses in preparing to compete for national and international awards of merit, including the Gilman, Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Fulbright, Truman, Goldwater, Carnegie Jr. Fellows, NSF, Udall, National Security Education Program, Killam and Woodrow Wilson scholarships. Since 1991, office-directed students have won more than 427 major national awards worth millions of dollars in external funding. In several competitions, ASU ranks among the top schools in the United States. For more information about the office visit

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College


ASU-Mayo seed grant addresses irritable bowel syndrome

January 5, 2015

It’s a disorder that affects roughly one in six Americans, but the medical community currently is frustrated by an inadequate understanding of its causes and a limited ability to diagnose and treat it.

The disorder is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and it is the target of a research project by Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic researchers that has received funding through the ASU-Mayo Seed Grant Program. Todd Sandrin & Peter Jurutka Download Full Image

“IBS is the second-highest cause for work absenteeism after the common cold,” said Amy Foxx-Orenstein, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, who brings 25 years of clinical research experience in IBS to this first-of-its-kind research project.

“This syndrome is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders. It affects women, men, young patients and the elderly,” Foxx-Orenstein said. “I am very excited to be collaborating with a talented group of ASU scientists in this challenging area.”

Among the ASU professors working with Foxx-Orenstein are Peter Jurutka and Todd Sandrin from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and Cheryl Nickerson from the School of Life Sciences and Biodesign Institute.

The project’s title is “A new dimension in modeling irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to elucidate novel diagnostic biomarkers and microbiome signatures.” It will make use of Nickerson’s innovative 3-D organotypic modeling system of human tissues that mimic the structure and function of tissues in the body. Jurutka researches a variety of health-related biochemical topics, including vitamin D, and the researchers will look for a possible causal relationship between variations in vitamin D levels and IBS. Sandrin brings to the project extensive experience investigating the workings of bacteria and other microorganisms in the human intestinal tract.

The ASU-Mayo Clinic study is the first to combine 3-D modeling with varying vitamin D concentrations and patient microbiota specifically for the study of IBS. The researchers will populate 3-D models with gut microbiota from fecal samples from IBS patients or healthy controls recruited from the Mayo Clinic, and supplement the models with a range of vitamin D to mimic normal to deficient levels.

“We are employing a multifaceted perspective in this study, working to determine the relative importance of different factors that may lead to IBS and how they may interact,” Jurutka said.

“The goals are to learn what the mechanisms are that drive the disease and to facilitate development of a more rapid, accurate diagnosis,” added Sandrin.

Many potential causes of IBS are being investigated by researchers around the world, according to Foxx-Orenstein.

“Despite multiple investigations, no single abnormality has been found to be the specific cause for this disorder, though traditionally, the focus has been on alterations in gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, and brain-gut interaction,” she said. “More recent studies have considered the role of inflammation, alterations in fecal flora, bacterial overgrowth, and food sensitivity. Whether a genetic predisposition exists is also being investigated.”

“Working on a university campus, we know it is not uncommon for students to be affected by IBS as the end of the semester approaches, with its final exams and assignments due, so there appears to be a stress component to the disorder in some cases,” Sandrin said.

The partnership combining knowledge and expertise among the ASU and Mayo researchers will enable the group to scale up the project as additional funding is obtained, Sandrin said.

“We are hopeful that potential sponsors of this research will see the value of the project and assist us in taking it to the next level,” he said. “Given that the annual cost of IBS is estimated to be more than $20 billion in the United States alone, an improved ability to diagnose and treat the disorder would provide huge benefits not only for the health of patients but for the health care system and the economy.”

Helping to launch promising new research projects aimed at improving human health is precisely the goal of the ASU-Mayo Seed Grant Program, which has awarded grants to 10 ASU-Mayo teams for 2015 to advance research in critical topics including cancer, bioinformatics, neuroscience technology, detection and imaging, health care delivery, and metabolic disease and obesity.

The seed grant program was launched in 2004. The involvement of Jurutka and Sandrin marks the first time faculty from ASU’s West campus have been involved in an ASU-Mayo seed project. New College is the core college on the West campus.