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Latest News & Student Profiles

Sowda Ahmed Studies the Side Effects of Congenital Cytomegalovirus

January 20, 2016

Sowda Ahmed is a third-year Genetics, Cell Biology & Development student with a minor in Management. She has conducted lab research on campus and will be travelling to Dubai to study abroad for the spring 2016 semester.

University Honors Program: What do you study and the University of Minnesota? Please briefly describe your involvement with the Honors Program and the Honors Student Association
Sowda Ahmed: I'm majoring in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development with a minor in management. I've been in the honors program for about 2 years and a half now. I was also a part of the honors student association for my first 2 years here. As part of the honors student association, I got to meet lots of honors students and also encourage other students, especially underrepresented students to apply for the honors program. Lots of the opportunities I've been able to participant in have been through the honors program & with my involvement in it.

UHP: Last spring you won a pretty prestigious award for a research project of yours. What was the project? And how did you get involved in that way?
SA: I went to the emerging researchers national conference in DC to present my research. After my freshman year, I did the CTSI summer undergraduate research program. I was able to do this program because I was able to get letters of recommendation from my first honors classes professors. I think that being an honors students and taking honors classes made me a competitive applicant to apply as a 1st year student! My research has been in Dr. Schleiss's lab studying congenital cytomegalovirus. My research project focused on developing a green fluorescent Guinea pig cytomegalovirus. This tool would be used in future experiments to studying the side effects of the disease.

UHP: What are your goals for the rest of college and for after graduation?
SA: After graduation I would like to go to medical school and apply to MD/PhD programs. I absolutely love research and would really like to continue it in the future.

UHP: Those who know you know you are very proud of your Somali heritage. What has it been like to be Somali growing up in Minneapolis and attending the University of Minnesota? How has your heritage driven your goals and engagement here at the U?
SA: One of the main reasons why I chose to attend the U was because of the proximity to the Somali community. I wanted to stay within Minneapolis so I could meet other Somali's in college and be a part of the Somali Student Association. My motivation to do well in school and succeed in achieving my goals is so that I can give back to my community. Both my community here in Minneapolis but also back in Somalia. I take pride in teaching others about the Somali culture and about my background. It's really allowed me to meet some great people, and also be an advocate for my community.