UAH biology student receives third annual Gopi Podila Memorial Scholarship

Caitlin Lynch

Gopi Podila Memorial Scholarship Award winner Caitlin Lynch (center) with (l-r) Dr. Debra Moriarity, Dr. Robert Zahorchak, Dr. Adam Hott of the PBR, and UAH President Robert Altenkirch.

Michael Mercier | UAH

At a reception and check presentation held at the Shelby Center yesterday afternoon, the third annual Gopi Podila Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Caitlin Lynch, a senior majoring in biology at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

Named for the late Dr. Gopi Podila, the $1000 scholarship is sponsored by the Partnership for Biotechnology Research (PBR), of which Dr. Podila was a founding member. It is awarded annually to an undergraduate student in the biological sciences who meets the scholarship's three criteria: academic performance, service to the department, and a demonstrated interest in biological research.

"These criteria are significant because they were important to Gopi," said Dr. Debra Moriarity, Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, at the reception. "And typically the nominees are upperclassmen, because it takes a while to have research going and for the faculty to get to know them enough to nominate them."

Indeed, only two students were nominated for this year's award: Lynch and fellow senior Nathan Judge. And both, said Dr. Moriarity, deserve to be recognized. "They have excellent academic records and have stood out in their activities and service to the department."

But since "Gopi very much supported undergraduate research and the involvement of students in research," she said, it really came down to the one who had done the most research. "And that was Caitlin."

Gopi very much supported undergraduate research and the involvement of students in research.

Dr. Debra M. Moriarity
Chair, Department of Biological Sciences

Previously, Lynch had worked with Dr. Robert Zahorchak on projects involving bacterial and fungal genetics, and with Dr. Luis Rogelio Cruz-Vera analyzing protein expression of mutant bacteria. She is also enrolled in the College of Science's Joint Undergraduate Master's Program, which means she will matriculate with a master's degree in molecular biology.

Dr. Zahorchak, who presented Lynch with the $1000 award, also added a few words. "I met Caitlin four years ago through the HudsonAlpha BioTrain program, and since then she's done a lot for the department," he said. "I want to thank her for that."

Upon receiving the check - and having her name engraved in a departmental plaque - Lynch said she felt "very blessed and honored" to be chosen for the scholarship. "This is such a great honor and I am very grateful for having the support of my professors and for the opportunities that have come my way, enhancing my success at UAH."

Individuals who wish to contribute to the Gopi Podila Memorial Scholarship Fund should contact PBR at


Dr. Debra M. Moriarity

Diana LaChance


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