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Wilson to Represent Eberly College of Science as Student Marshal

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Credit: Bill Schintz

Christina N. Wilson, of York, Pennsylvania, will be honored as the Eberly College of Science student marshal during fall commencement ceremonies on Friday, 22 December 2006, at the Penn State University Park campus. She has selected Anton Nekrutenko, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, to be her faculty escort for the commencement exercises.

Wilson, a graduate of Dallastown Area High School, will be completing a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. She has earned a 3.97 grade-point average and has been on the Dean's list at Penn State every semester. Her academic achievements have been recognized with a Schreyer Honors College Academic Excellence Scholarship, a Junior Miss Academic Scholarship, and a National Merit Scholarship in 2003; a Robert and Betsy Wilson Endowed Scholarship and a Joseph Miller Scholarship in Science in 2005; and a Thesis Research Grant from the Penn State Institute for Computational Sciences, an Undergraduate Summer Discovery Grant, and a Herko Family Scholarship in Biochemistry in 2006.

Wilson has spent six semesters and two summers working in the laboratory of Anton Nekrutenko, where she has performed bioinformatics and genomics research with Nekrutendo and Kateryna Makova since 2003. Her first project focused on a gene that was composed almost entirely of transposable elements-pieces of DNA that move around the genome. This work resulted in Wilson being listed as first author on a paper that was published in the journal Gene in 2006. In her current project, she uses a computational approach to study the potential for induction of autoimmunity disorders in humans by certain bacterial proteins with shapes that are complementary to normal human proteins. The researchers hope to publish this work in Nature Medicine in the near future. She says, "I have enjoyed working on projects that have focused on analyzing the vast amount of new genome-sequencing data that continues to become available."

In addition to her academic activities, Wilson has played the violin in the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. She enjoys ballet, scuba diving, and rock climbing, and has been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity since her sophomore year at Penn State.

After graduation, Wilson plans to take a semester off from school to work as a substitute teacher, to travel, and to do volunteer work at home and abroad. She plans to attend medical school next fall. She is considering several schools, and has interviewed with Georgetown University, the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pittsburgh, the Penn State College of Medicine, and the University of Maryland.

Wilson recently was crowned Miss York County and will be competing in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in June 2007. As Miss York County, she will receive a scholarship and will spend a year representing the city of York and doing volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations.

Wilson says, "I had been so busy with medical school interviews that I hadn't had much time to think about graduation. When I was notified that I had been selected as a student marshal, I was very surprised and excited."

Wilson will be accompanied at commencement by her parents, Dr. Robert Wilson and Mrs. Linda Wilson, her older brother Robert Wilson, who received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State in 2005, and her younger brother Nick Wilson.

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