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Pomona College Student Studying Anti-Malarial Compounds Wins Prestigious Pfizer Fellowship

Ulysses Gomez, a junior at Pomona College, was one of two students awarded the prestigious 2009-2010 Pfizer Academic Industrial Relations (AIR) Diversity Fellowship in Organic Chemistry, in the amount of $15,000. Gomez’s research project will investigate malaria and the need for new anti-malarial drugs that are potent, selective and cost effective for less developed countries. This fellowship will serve to fund Gomez’s work in Pomona College Chemistry Professor Cynthia Selassie’s research group for the 2009 -2010 academic year.

Gomez’s research project focuses on one of the most virulent malaria-causing parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for approximately one million deaths each year, especially among women and children. While modern medicine and vector control methods have drastically reduced deaths, there is a recent increase in drug resistance. Gomez, a chemistry major, says that he is “interested in designing pharmaceuticals with the aim of curing diseases that disproportionately affect low income communities of color and/or Third World countries.”  He intends to pursue a MD/PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry.

At Pomona, Gomez has received numerous academic honors: Minority Undergraduate Research Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (2009); Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholarship (2009); Frey Memorial Ecology Scholarship (2008-2009); Caldwell Memorial Scholarship (2008-2009); Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant (2008); and Chicano/ Latino Student Affairs Academic Award (2007-2008).

Gómez is the brother of Jonathan Gómez ¹09, a Spanish major who won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistanceship to teach secondary school in Madrid, Spain, and research transgender legal rights for comparison to those in the U.S.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.