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White Coat Donation Leads to Research Honors

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Marcella Babatunde, Class of 2025, always knew she wanted her career to involve health care, and after hearing presentations about pharmacy careers, she realized that would be her chosen path.

“Pharmacy was the perfect combination of math, science, health care and working with drugs,” she says.

The day Babatunde received her white coat as she began her studies at the USC College of Pharmacy is when she moved down the path toward pharmaceutical research. The names of donors to the White Coat Ceremony are placed inside the pocket of each white coat – the donor of Babatunde’s coat was Doug Pittman, director of graduate studies for the College of Pharmacy.

“I emailed Dr. Pittman to thank him for donating my coat and read about his research,” Babatunde recalls. “I met him and asked more about the research he was doing, then asked if he was taking on more students.”

Babatunde joined Pittman’s lab and became involved in ongoing research into DNA repair. After Dr. Pittman encouraged her to apply, she submitted her paper entitled “Determining the Physical Interaction Patterns between Paraspeckle and RAD51 Paralogues” and received the Magellan Scholar Award from the USC Office of Undergraduate Research.

Having this award will also allow me to worry less about supporting myself during school and focus more on my research. I would have never guessed my freshman year that I would be involved in research, much less win an award for it …

The award, given to scholars for research in scholarly and creative projects that are in collaboration with a faculty mentor, includes funding of up to $3,000 for salary, materials or travel.

“I have found three conferences where I would like to present my work,” Babatunde adds. “Having this award will also allow me to worry less about supporting myself during school and focus more on my research. I would have never guessed my freshman year that I would be involved in research, much less win an award for it. I’m very grateful for the support of the university and the college.”

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.