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Zhang among 2019 Undergraduate Student Pelotonia Fellows

Mia ZhangElectrical and computer engineering student Mia Zhang is named among the list of 2019 Undergraduate Student Pelotonia Fellows working to cure cancer at The Ohio State University.

As a winner, Zhang earns a one-year research fellowship to pursue her project, “Understanding the Biological Basis of Alternating Electric Field Therapy on Breast Cancer Cells,” looking into the effect of extrinsically applied alternating fields (EFs) on a molecule that plays a critical role in the process of metastasis in triple negative breast cancer. 

Zhang is mentored by Assistant Professor Jonathan Song, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Engineering.

Zhang said her research work is important in the hopes “to advance our understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of alternating EF therapy, also known as tumor treating fields, which is an emerging noninvasive treatment modality in oncology.”

Given cancer's complexity, the search for a cure requires a multidisciplinary effort. For that reason, the Undergraduate Student Pelotonia Fellows program is open for all Ohio State undergraduate students to apply, regardless of major.

The fellowship was founded to help students contribute to the field of cancer research by providing the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in this critical field. Undergraduate fellows are paid a $12,000 annual stipend to work on their independent research projects. This generous stipend allows them to fulfill their financial responsibilities while gaining valuable experience in moving the field of cancer research forward and developing their own projects. During the summer, they are expected to put full-time effort into their projects, and during the academic year, part-time effort. 

Zhang is also serving as a 2019 Pelotonia Virtual rider to help raise funds through Oct. 4. To contribute to her fund:

“All the money raised through Pelotonia goes toward life-saving cancer research, including my research project,” Zhang said. “Any amount of donation will be appreciated.”

To date, 244 Pelotonia Undergraduate Student Fellows have been funded. These students have very diverse majors and they work on varied projects investigating how different therapeutic agents improve natural killer cells’ ability to kill tumor cells, and measuring how social support may help improve the quality of lives of cancer survivors and their families.

Each year, approximately 80 undergraduate applications are submitted. Each application is critically reviewed by members of the Pelotonia Fellowship Committee. Because of the prestigious nature of these awards, many students have reported that receiving a fellowship has distinguished them from their peers when applying to and being accepted into medical school or PhD programs.

In April, Zhang also was named a Barry Goldwater Scholar, the nation’s most prestigious award for undergraduate researchers in science, math and engineering.