Two biology majors win Frost Scholarships to study at Oxford

Two Florida State University graduating seniors will be studying at the University of Oxford this fall after being named Frost Scholars in the third year of the scholarship program.

Frost Scholars Barbara Dietrick, left, and Eleni Jaecklein.

Frost Scholars Barbara Dietrick, left, and Eleni Jaecklein.

Barbara Dietrick and Eleni Jaecklein, both 22 and majoring in biological sciences, will begin their studies at Oxford in October. They are among 10 recipients of scholarships through the Frost Scholarship Programme, which funds current State University System of Florida students for one-year, full-time master’s courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at Oxford.

The program, which is supported by the Phillip and Patricia Frost Philanthropic Foundation, covers 100 percent of university and college fees and provides a grant for living costs.

Craig Filar, director of the Office of National Fellowships at Florida State, said that Dietrick and Jaecklein will represent FSU at Oxford with strong character and sharp intellect.

“The Frost Scholarship recognizes exceptional young scholars who are poised to contribute significant advances in the STEM fields through their careers, and Barbara and Eleni embody the strongest traits of scholarship and leadership found at FSU,” Filar said. “The work they have both done during their time here is impressive. They have demonstrated that the preparation our undergraduate students receive in STEM fields is some of the best in the country, and I can think of no better representatives from FSU to join the ranks of Frost Scholars.”

Dietrick, from Castle Rock, Colorado, plans to pursue a master’s in clinical embryology at Oxford. She will take courses on human reproductive biology, embryology and infertility and will be taught practical laboratory skills in these areas, including assisted reproductive technology. She also will write a dissertation based on a research project.

“I am absolutely indebted to the Phillip and Patricia Frost Philanthropic Foundation for supporting my aspirations to become a leader in biomedical science,” Dietrick said. “In addition to the inspiration from my family, the knowledge I will gain from the Master of Science in Clinical Embryology program will allow me to further investigate disease mechanisms and how physicians and scientists can collaborate to use clinical embryology to improve health and quality of life.”

Dietrick is a member of Beta Beta Beta, the national biology honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta, the health pre-professional honor society, and the American Medical Women’s Association.

On the same day she learned that she had received the Frost Scholarship, Dietrick was accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has deferred her attendance there until the fall of 2017.

“I hope to stay involved in clinical embryology research when I return and transition into using my knowledge from research into practicing as a physician,” she said.

Jaecklein, from Ormond Beach, Florida, plans to pursue a master’s of integrated immunology at Oxford. She will take courses that cover the fundamentals of immunology and the clinical and therapeutic applications of research in this field. She also will conduct a laboratory-based research project that she will present to a committee.

“When I began my studies at Florida State University, I never imagined that I would be attending graduate school at the University of Oxford,” Jaecklein said. “The Frost Scholarship has made this possible for me. I look forward to studying at this world-class university and participating in research directed by pioneers in the field of immunology. I am looking forward to becoming involved in the Oxford community and beginning this next phase of my studies.”

Since the spring of her sophomore year, Jaecklein has conducted genetics research in the laboratory of biological science Associate Professor Karen McGinnis. She turned her research into an honors thesis, which she successfully defended this semester.

After completing her studies at Oxford, Jaecklein intends to seek a doctorate in biomedical sciences at the University of Massachusetts.

“Regardless of the path I choose after my doctorate, I see myself continuing as a researcher of infectious disease and/or vaccine development,” she said.

The University of Oxford, located in Oxford, England, is a leading research university and the oldest university in the English-speaking world. 

Before they begin their studies in October, Frost Scholars take part in an exclusive weeklong orientation programme at one of Oxford’s oldest colleges, Exeter College, to introduce them to academic life at Oxford.