UNM student heading to the UK - Albuquerque Journal

UNM student heading to the UK

The grounds of Churchill College at Cambridge University in England.

Receiving the Churchill Scholarship is an honor bestowed upon a very select cohort of college students from across the U.S. The University of New Mexico’s Esteban Abeyta, a senior biochemistry major and honors minor, can now count himself as one of the scholarship’s elite.

Esteban Abeyta

The Churchill Scholarship was awarded to Abeyta for one year of master’s study at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. The award covers full tuition, a stipend, travel costs and the chance to apply for a $2,000 special research grant.

The scholarship was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill in order to fulfil his vision of U.S.-U.K. scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic. The award is extremely competitive and has been called the most academically rigorous of the prestigious scholarships.

“I’m extremely humbled and thrilled to be selected as part of the new class of Churchill Scholars, and I’m proud to represent The University of New Mexico in this rare opportunity,” said Abeyta. “My interests in biochemistry, genetics and research have helped me acquire the skills I will need to succeed at the University of Cambridge. I attribute many of these successes to the experiences I have had working with phenomenal mentors from Los Alamos National Laboratory, The University of New Mexico, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.bright spot

“I also would like to recognize my mentors from the UNM Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program for their research training, guidance and support over the years,” he said.

One of Abeyta’s mentors, Regents’ Professor Emeritus Maggie Werner-Washburne, is thrilled, but not surprised, at his success.

“Esteban is not only incredibly bright, he is gracious, proactive in his communication and has an incredibly optimistic attitude. In many respects, he is already a colleague,” said Werner-Washburne.

Abeyta was born and raised in Española. While at UNM on a Regents Scholarship, he became a member of PBK – the nation’s oldest academic honor society – and was honored as a 2018 Goldwater Scholarship recipient.

He also conducted research at MIT and Harvard, LANL, Veteran Affairs, UNM College of Pharmacy and UNM School of Medicine Molecular & Microbiology.

“At Cambridge, I plan to pursue an M.Phil. in Biochemistry focusing on the relationship between human genetics and diseases,” he said. “Specifically, I will be investigating how defects in DNA damage repair mechanisms can determine the severity of neurological diseases.”

UNM student to study at Cambridge as Churchill Scholar

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