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Krista Garcia, photo credit Morgan Levine

In honor of their outstanding accomplishments and limitless potential, two USC Leonard Davis School doctoral students ended the school year with a major reason to celebrate.

Krista Garcia was one of only two social scientists in the last seven years to win the R36 National Institute on Aging (NIA) Aging Research Dissertation Award, which supports two years of dissertation work as well as providing funds for additional expenses.

“Nearly half of men and a third of women will develop cancer in their lifetime. However, it is unclear what the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment are on survivors,” Garcia said. “I hope to address this research void and to improve our understanding of the adverse physical and cognitive health outcomes following a cancer diagnosis in older adults, which can inform interventions and help identify at-risk groups.”

Crediting her advisor, Eileen Crimmins, as well as the insight and guidance of postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Ailshire and research administrator/program manager Linda Hall, Garcia expressed gratitude for the Multidisciplinary Research Training in Gerontology Program.

“The success of my application is attributed to my outstanding mentoring team and to the strong institutional support I receive here at the USC Leonard Davis School,” Garcia said. “I am very grateful and very proud.”

Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto, photo credit Christine McDowell/The Image Artist

Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto, photo credit Christine McDowell/The Image Artist

Fellow USC Leonard Davis School doctoral student Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which will support three years of research with the possibility of additional expenses.

“This will provide me the opportunity to focus entirely upon research and to further explore the role of a mitochondrial stress response protein known as the Lon protease,” Corrales-Diaz Pomatto said. “I plan to solve the mystery of how it is regulated and to achieve one of my major goals: to be a part of a collaboration between gerontology and engineering to improve the aging process.”

Attributing enormous impact to the guidance of her mentor, Kelvin J.A. Davies, vice-dean of the USC Leonard Davis School, as well as to the discipline and camaraderie of rowing on USC’s crew team, Corrales-Diaz Pomatto says that being a Trojan has shaped her in more ways than she can count.

“The concept of ‘Fight On’ has become more than a school motto,” Corrales-Diaz Pomatto said. “It embodies how I hope to approach life—that regardless the challenges, I will continue to persevere.”

“With sterling records as students and scientists, both Krista and Laura represent the highest ideals of USC as well as those of the field of gerontology itself,” said USC Leonard Davis School dean Pinchas Cohen. “We are so proud that the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation recognized how exceptional these two women are, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish next.”

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