April 28, 2021 at 6:11 pm

Nicole Hess Looks at Genetic Mutations to Learn More about Hearing Loss

Nicole Hess in the lab

2021 Goldwater Scholar Nicole Hess works in the lab. Photo by Rich-Joseph Facun/Ohio University

Excerpted from Ohio University News

When Nicole Hess was a freshman at Ohio University, she was looking for a research project that was more human-focused. After discussing with her adviser, Dr. Soichi Tanda, he invited her to join his lab to conduct research on hearing loss.

Hess, a Honors Tutorial College junior majoring in biological sciences from Powell, Ohio, was excited to learn more and got to work right away in Tanda’s lab. Hess was recently awarded the Goldwater Scholarship for her research work.

“It was really exciting when I found out – I was so happy,” Hess said. “The past year hasn’t gone the greatest for me, between COVID-19 and other things, so it was just so good to have something positive happen. The recognition really helped build my confidence back up [about my thesis] and made me feel confident and capable [in my work].”

Her strong work in the lab does not go unnoticed.

“Whenever Nicole comes into work, I have peace of mind because she is responsible for what she does,” Tanda, associate professor of biology, said. “As the day ends, she does every single experiment or analysis correctly, so I feel very comfortable in having her in my lab because she is someone I can totally trust.”

Three other researchers that help with Hess’s work are Dr. Mark Berryman, Dr. Mitchell Day and Jeff Thuma.

Hess is one of 410 students selected nationally to receive the Goldwater Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, room, and board up to a maximum of $7,500.

The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

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