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NMSU alumna receives 2017 For Women in Science Fellowship

A New Mexico State University alumna is one of only five recipients of the 2017 For Women in Science Fellowship awarded by L’Oréal USA. Kellie Ann Jurado, currently in a post doctoral program at Yale received the fellowship, which honors female scientists at a critical stage in their careers with a $60,000 grant to advance their postdoctoral research.


Woman looking into a microscope
NMSU alumna Kellie Jurado, who earned her Ph.D. in biology at Harvard and is pursuing post-doctoral research at Yale, is among five recipients of the 2017 Women in Science Fellowship awarded by L’Oréal USA. (Courtesy photo)

Jurado grew up in Roswell and Las Cruces. Her father, a chile farmer in the Mesilla Valley, and her mother a small business owner in Roswell. The idea of becoming a scientist was not on her radar.

“My professors at NMSU were 100 percent the reason I pursued science as a career,” said Jurado. “They helped guide my passion toward tangible goals and provided me with the experience and counsel along the way.”

Jurado’s fellowship will support her research and ability to attend conferences as well as support her project to provide culturally competent education campaign to promote the uptake of the HPV vaccine in collaboration with her husband who is an obstetrics/gynecology resident physician at Yale.

“I did not realize my passion for scientific research until quite late—at NMSU. I was first exposed to the practice of science through participation within a psychology experiment, which I underwent for extra credit for a core course,” Jurado said. “Dr. Laura Thompson (NMSU psychology professor) was the psychology professor that allowed me to volunteer within her lab for two years as well as continued to mentor me as I moved to ask more basic science questions.

“Dr. Kathryn Hanley (NMSU biology professor) has been instrumental in my direction toward pursuing questions of my current field of virology as well as in counsel of the general field of science. She continues to be a major motivator within my pursuit.”

Jurado said earning a PhD was the natural next step toward becoming a scientist. When it was time to graduate from NMSU, she chose Harvard to earn her Ph.D. in biology.

The U.S. L'Oréal USA's For Women in Science fellowship program has awarded 70 postdoctoral women scientists over $3.5 million in grants over the past 14 years. Jurado feels it’s important for NMSU students to dream big and experience as much as possible in college because they may find inspiration where they least expect it.

“Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself and if opportunities are not presenting themselves, then be proactive and ask for opportunities,” Jurado said.

“The professor who probably does not realize the extent of her impact within my path is professor emeritus, Dr. Wenda Trevathan. She did not laugh at my naïve hypotheses within her field of evolutionary anthropology that I shared with her as a freshman at NMSU, but instead introduced me to primary literature and methods of scientific practice. There are several others. That is really the best thing about NMSU—the number of professors who will invest time and effort into their students’ dreams.”