Bloo Mitchell: A Rising Star in Biological Sciences at the University of Memphis

Bloo MitchellBloo Mitchell, a current graduate student in the Biological Sciences department at the University of Memphis, has recently been honored with the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF). The NSF GRF supports outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Mitchell, working under Dr. Philip Kohlmeier, is investigating maternal effects on larval cold adaptation in fruit flies. This three-year fellowship provides an annual stipend of $37,000 and an annual cost of education allowance of $16,000. Mitchell aims to unravel the connection between epigenetic mechanisms and environmental adaptation at the molecular level. Read the full press release here. This significant accomplishment not only showcases Mitchell's dedication and potential in the field of biology but also highlights the quality of research and education at the University of Memphis.

Journey to Memphis

From Norfolk, VA, Mitchell moved their family, including their wife and 12-year-old daughter, to Memphis to embark on their PhD journey. Their decision to join the University of Memphis was influenced by the compelling research on ants led by Dr. Kohlmeier. Upon visiting the campus and interacting with the vibrant graduate community, Mitchell recognized the university as the perfect environment to nurture their scientific development.

Academic and Extracurricular AchievementsBloo Mitchell

While Mitchell's NSF GRF stands as their first major accomplishment in graduate school, their academic journey is adorned with numerous accolades and contributions. In their undergraduate years at Dalton State College, Mitchell served in several leadership roles, including Senator of Sciences in the Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Representative in the Academic Committee. They also co-founded and served as vice president of SACNAS (Student Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science), an organization advocating for underrepresented student populations.

One of Mitchell's significant achievements during their undergraduate studies was the establishment and recognition of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) organization. Their team received the Diversity & Inclusion Award for actively promoting diversity and intercultural engagement efforts on campus.

Furthermore, Mitchell's research contributions include their involvement in the Park Creek Elementary School Restoration Project, collaborating with the Fish & Wildlife Service and the GA Department of Natural Resources. This project focused on restoring riparian areas and assessing water quality, earning Mitchell a grant from the Department of Education. 

Outside of research, Mitchell is establishing an oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) chapter at the University of Memphis to support LGBTQ+ students and professionals in STEM fields.

The annual GRFP Bootcamp developed by Dr. Emily Puckett

When asked about their experience, Mitchell shared the following: “The GRFP Bootcamp spans several weeks and provides students with valuable feedback on their applications while teaching themBloo Mitchell how to write effectively for competitive grants. Although challenging, the bootcamp was immensely beneficial, equipping me with valuable insights into becoming a more compelling science writer. Despite its difficulty, I found the program enjoyable and believe it was precisely what I needed to enhance my skills. I could not imagine being able to receive this fellowship without the guidance of Dr. Emily Puckett, Dr. Cassandra Nunez, and Dr. Jim Adelman. Their mentorship was instrumental in my success throughout the process.

Future Aspirations

Looking ahead, Mitchell envisions pursuing a postdoctoral position in an entomology lab with a focus on behavioral research, preferably involving ants. They aspire to transition into a professorship role, aiming to share the knowledge and skills they have garnered over the years. As a first-generation, non-traditional student, Mitchell is determined to make a lasting impact on the lives of their future students.

With their unwavering commitment to research, community, and education, Mitchell is undoubtedly a rising star in the field of Biological Sciences. We look forward to witnessing their continued success and contributions to science and academia.