Keck School of Medicine scholar Elizabeth Zuniga is one of five USC graduate students to receive the PhD Achievement Award this month in recognition of their outstanding academic profiles. New this year, the award highlights the most exceptional PhD candidates of the academic year.
Zuniga received the award for her accomplishments in neuroscience. As a PhD candidate at USC, she has focused her research on signaling pathways involved in craniofacial development.
The daughter of an immigrant family from Mexico, Zuniga grew up in the farming communities of the San Joaquin Valley. She delved into developmental neuroscience research during her undergraduate career at the University of California, Berkeley, earning a Biology Fellows Grant from the university. She has earned numerous awards for her research in cell and neurobiology, including “Best Poster” at multiple conferences and an NIH NRSA F31 Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Zuniga also was honored as the 2011–12 Graduate Student of the Year by the USC Neuroscience Program. She will join the laboratory of S. Larry Zipursky at UCLA as a postdoctoral fellow.
Selected by a committee of distinguished USC faculty members, the PhD Achievement Awardrecipients represent a breadth of disciplines. They include Rowan Martindale, an expert on Triassic reef paleoecology, who earned her PhD in geological sciences this month from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Suresh Nallareddy, a student of the USC Marshall School of Business; Eric Hoyt in the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Critical Studies doctoral program; and Nicholas Scurich, who recently completed his doctorate in psychology at USC Dornsife.
Each awardee received a monetary prize, and the students’ faculty mentors also were recognized with a mentoring award. Zuniga is mentored by Gage Crump, assistant professor of cell and neurobiology. Zuniga and Crump work at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.