University of Nevada, Reno senior Clarissa Martins always knew she wanted to be involved in the medical field. Receiving the 2012 Thomas J. Bardos Award for her research involving cancer and nutrition is a reflection on those childhood dreams.
"Winning this award means so much to me, and shows that all my hard work is paying off," Martins said. "Out of the 16,000 people who applied worldwide, I was one of the 17 people chosen for this award. It's a huge honor."
The award is intended to inspire young science students to enter the field of cancer research and to help those students develop their careers in science by providing a unique educational opportunity. Martins' research is largely inspired by her mother, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"When I was about nine years old, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and as a child, I didn't really understand what that meant," Martins said. "So, I began researching cancer and in my freshmen year of college I found the Pardini research lab. I started out helping with a couple projects there and learned about various research techniques. My passion for cancer research exploded from there."
To be eligible for the award candidates must be a full-time, third-year undergraduate student majoring in science as well as a current American Association for Cancer Research member. Martins will receive $3,000 from the AACR, which grants the career-development award.
Martins said that she applied to the association upon the encouragement of her mentor Keith Kikawa, a postdoctoral scholar with the University's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
"My mentor initially told me about the award," Martins said. "The minute the application was open I was applying for it with his help."
The award is named after Thomas J. Bardos, a professor emeritus from the University at Buffalo, who participated in cancer research for more than 50 years.
Martins, scheduled to graduate in 2013, plans to be a clinical researcher in the oncology field.
Visit the American Association for Cancer Research for more information.