Meryl Collins is passionate about plant-based science. Her interest was solidified after a research internship in the Dominican Republic in summer 2012 where she found her niche in investigating treatments of diseases through natural remedies. The senior biology major worked on a project with Assistant Professor of Biology Anne Osano, her academic adviser who told her about the internship program. The goal is to eventually replace or supplement man-made drugs and avoid harmful side effects.
Meryl has always had a curiosity about life sciences, but testing native plants to determine their medicinal uses was new to her. In the Dominican Republic, she explored the plants’ effectiveness in destroying cancer cells and preventing cancer cells from dividing.
She also shadowed doctors in a local free clinic and working with patients. “I enjoyed being with actual patients, not being behind books anymore, [and] being in person with people who are in underrepresented and underprivileged communities,” Meryl said.
The people who frequented the clinic had no access to commercial hygiene products and over-the-counter medicines – they relied on natural treatments for their ailments. The experience opened Meryl’s eyes to the benefits and practical uses of alternative medicines.
She presented her biomedical findings at three national conferences and took home a couple of awards for her presentations. In summer 2013, she is shadowing doctors at a hospital in Prince George’s County as she prepares for a career in the medical profession.