Jessica Kemp receives 2018 Chancellor’s Club Fellowship
At a ceremony held on May 17, Jessica Kemp, Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD student, received one of the 2018 Chancellor’s Club Fellowships. These awards recognize UCI’s most academically superior doctoral students – those who exhibit outstanding promise as scholars, researchers and public leaders and are first-generation students.
“I have known Jessica since 2012 when she was invited for an interview in a process of admitting pre-doctoral students to the Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology Program at UCI,” recalls Professor Young Jik Kwon. “My first impression about her is still fresh in my memory. She was the most motivated student among those I have ever interviewed. After the 30-min meeting, I realized that I needed to recruit Jessica into my laboratory.”
Jessica started working in Professor Kwon’s BioTherapeutics Engineering Lab during the summer of 2012. Her research focuses on developing a novel technology for synergistic molecular therapy for cancer using multi-modal nanomedicine. A fundamental challenge in developing a safe and effective cancer treatment is the pathological complexity of the disease that often results in deteriorating recurrence. Jessica aims to demonstrate an innovative paradigm of achieving highly efficient, specific, and safe treatment of cancer by combining various therapeutic modalities in a nanoplatform for desired effects.
Jessica’s academic and personal journey is inspiring and is not without obstacles. Coming from a background in which higher education for girls was discouraged, particularly for studies and a career in sciences, Jessica struggled to earn her bachelor’s degree – a feat that took 10 years after moving between multiple institutions. Still, she persevered and never gave up.
Upon admission to UCI, Jessica was selected as a Diversity Fellow, a prestigious recognition by the UCI Graduate Division to those who succeeded academically in unusually challenging situations. She was also selected as a Fellow for the Faculty Mentor Program in 2013 in recognition of her outstanding achievement to become a next generation scientist/engineer, teacher, and leader.
As a PhD student at UCI, Jessica became a dedicated graduate mentor. She served as a mentor of high school students during outreach research programs, was a TA for several PharmSci undergraduate courses, and served a mentor in the UCI Chican@/Latin@ Staff Association Familia Program.
“Jessica is highly deserving of this award,” adds Kwon. “She has a diverse background, both academic and social, with neither parent attending college. She has demonstrated great capability as a researcher, but more importantly has shown that she can critically think and aptly apply concepts learned in classes to problem solving in the lab. She inspires students in classrooms and shares enthusiasm in science and research. I am pleased to serve as her research advisor.”