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Tracy James
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Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2008

"Science kid" inaugural Adam W. Herbert graduate fellow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Byron Gipson has always been a "science kid," participating in science fairs as a youngster and then conducting research in biochemistry, molecular and marine biology, molecular genetics, and cancer at universities in Mississippi, Nebraska and Indiana.

Gipson

Photo by: Chris Meyer

Byron Gipson

Print-Quality Photo

Gipson brings this love of science and a "ferocious curiosity" inherited from his mother back to Indiana University, where he began studying this semester as the first Adam W. Herbert Graduate Fellow. Pursuing a doctorate, Gipson will serve his fellowship conducting cutting-edge research into the neural mechanisms underlying relapse to drug-seeking behavior, a research focus in the lab of George V. Rebec, chancellor's professor and director of the Program in Neuroscience.

"I feel very honored to be the first fellow," said Gipson, a native of Webb, Miss., and a graduate of Jackson State University, also in Mississippi.

The Adam W. Herbert Graduate Fellowship was created to support graduate study at IU for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The endowment reflects the commitment of Emeritus President Adam W. Herbert to enhancing opportunities for underrepresented students and increasing diversity among graduate students, especially in the fields of science, technology and mathematics.

The fellowship covers most of the students' tuition and fees. Doctoral fellows receive stipend awards of $25,000 per year for four years. Master's fellows receive a single-year stipend award of $5,000. Graduate school officials anticipate eventually funding five doctoral students and three master's students each year.

Gipson received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Jackson State University last spring. He participated in summer research programs at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and IU, where last summer he participated in the Summer Scholars Institute for Students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

While his research interests focused on plant molecular genetics and marine biology early on, it began shifting during his summer experiences to reflect his growing interest in neurological disorders and cancer, conditions that affected members of his family.

He described his involvement in IU's research program last summer as tremendous and said he had already begun applying for graduate school at IU Bloomington when he was encouraged to apply for the Adam W. Herbert Graduate Fellowship.

Gipson had planned on serving his fellowship in the Walker Lab, led by J. Michael Walker, a noted neuroscientist at IU Bloomington who passed away unexpectedly in January. At that point, Gipson made the decision to join Rebec's lab, located in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Here, he will use state-of-the-art electrophysiological techniques to monitor cocaine-induced changes in neuronal information processing in forebrain regions believed to mediate motivated behavior. He will assess how cocaine alters the synchronous activity of individual neurons to drive the relapse response. Pharmacological manipulations also will be used to identify the neurotransmitter systems that regulate neuronal synchrony.

Gipson is the son of Henry L. and Edith Gipson, from whom he says he "inherited" his curiosity. Edith Gipson, a teacher in the West Tallahatchie School District, was an assistant teacher when Byron was young and because of her enjoyment of science, encouraged his interest in science.

More information about the Adam W. Herbert Graduate Fellowship can be found at http://www.indiana.edu/~grdschl/internal-awards.php.