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NMSU student named Goldwater Scholar

Kellie Ann Jurado, a junior double majoring in biology and psychology at New Mexico State University, was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious undergraduate award designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Kellie Ann Jurado, a junior double majoring in biology and psychology at New Mexico State University, was one of 276 undergraduate students around the nation to be awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Jurado was among the 276 students from around the nation who received the $7,500 award.

In her Goldwater proposal, Jurado wrote about the importance of understanding the role of the hormone leptin in reproductive function. The research focuses on the potential that the hormone has in treating certain types of obesity.

"Kellie is an absolutely outstanding undergraduate scholar with the potential to be a leader in the field of endocrine research," said Tracey Miller-Tomlinson, associate dean of the Honors College at NMSU.

Jurado began conducting research as a freshman with Laura Thompson, a psychology professor at NMSU. The research focused on learning throughout an infant's first year of life through a mother/infant study.

"NMSU has given me wonderful opportunities to pursue undergraduate research and has provided an enriching environment," Jurado said.

In 2008, Jurado was awarded the Honors College Scholarship for International Research to complete a summer internship at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

During the internship, Jurado was a research assistant in the primatology endocrine laboratory on a project investigating population variance of reproductive hormones of Mongolian and German women.

"Her Goldwater proposal grew partly out of this international research experience, where she mastered cutting edge lab techniques not yet broadly used in the United States, and partly out of her honors thesis research in the laboratories of NMSU faculty members," Miller-Tomlinson said.

With her growing interest in endocrinology, Jurado joined the only endocrine lab at NMSU in 2008. The lab investigates early expression of puberty and synchronized estrus in sheep.

Under the mentorship of Dennis Hallford, a professor in animal and range sciences, Jurado has gained the experience of the development, effort and many responsibilities of running a research project.

"Each of my mentors have contributed uniquely and largely to my knowledge and skill obtained thus far and I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work with each of them," Jurado said.

Currently, Jurado is conducting her own research project that focuses on serum hormone responses associated with a treatment used for prepubertal breeding among 24 Rambouillet ewe lambs.

Jurado's interests lie in endocrinology and the study of hormones, as she plans to pursue a doctorate in the biomedical sciences.