WWU Graduate Receives Public Health Fellowship

By Allie Layos ’09

Doors are opening for William Woods University graduate Amanda Candee, and many of these opportunities are due to the impressive tick research she did as an undergraduate with Professor Mary Spratt.

Candee, of Crocker, Mo., recently received a public health fellowship through the Association of Public Health Laboratories, an impressive achievement that finds its beginnings at William Woods.

The EID (Emerging Infectious Diseases) Advanced Laboratory Training Fellowship is a one-year fellowship program designed for bachelor’s and master’s level scientists. The program emphasizes the practical application of technologies, methodologies and practices related to emerging infectious diseases.
Different local and state labs throughout the nation volunteered to host a “fellow,” and Candee was accepted into many of them, but the training fellowship that Candee chose takes place in federal labs in Georgia, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, known for cutting edge research.
“This will help me a lot,” said Candee. “Anyone in biology pretty much knows CDC. It’s an important organization.”
Jim Wilson, instructor of biology, feels that Candee’s achievement is important to the science program at William Woods.
“It is another ‘feather in our cap.’ There was lots of competition for the CDC positions. Most positions went to graduate students, which makes her selection even more significant. It is rewarding to us faculty and it inspires students in our biology program.”
Spratt also feels that this achievement will affect other students in a positive manner.
“Amanda was well liked by both peers and faculty. They respected her, and enjoyed her as a person. For them to see her doing this will raise their goals and make them see it as a
possibility for themselves as well,” said Spratt.

Candee began her fellowship on Sept. 11 with Dr. Robert Massung, who has worked with the same bacteria, Ehrlichia, that Candee studied with Spratt. Both Candee and Spratt had met Massung earlier, during a national meeting at which they presented research results that impressed this respected scientist.

“Her work was impressive because she was doing research as an undergraduate that had real meaning in terms of impact on human lives,” said Spratt.

That work with Professor Spratt opened more doors than Candee ever dreamed.

“That research gave me a basis in studying infectious diseases, and got me interested in going to meetings, like the Missouri Academy for Science and the American Society for Microbiology,” said Candee.

It was while presenting her research at the American Society for Microbiology that she first heard about the Training Fellowship and where she met Massung. An application process followed.

“Professor Spratt was very supportive. She wrote my recommendation,” said Candee.

The recommendation must have been a good one, because Candee became a finalist and was flown to Atlanta for an interview. Spratt was once again helpful, as Candee was questioned about exactly the same things Spratt asked her in their mock interviews together.

Candee feels that William Woods in general was a great help in getting this far.

“The professors were wonderful. They know you and want to do everything they can to help you. If I had gone to a bigger school I never would have gotten to know them so well,” she said.

“I would have never been in the Mentor/Mentee Program.”

She added, “Coming from a small school you always wonder if you are getting the same education you would at a large school…I talked to some friends at larger schools and some of them haven’t gotten to do half of what I have. None of them have gotten to work with a professor for two years.”

Wilson and Spratt both feel that much of Candee’s success has come from her own inner drive.

“Amanda has a natural curiosity and really wants to learn. She is careful and diligent—willing to devote a lot of time to make sure assignments are accomplished,” said Wilson.

“Her motivation for learning was for learning’s sake, not for a grade,” said Spratt.
“That is what set her apart from many students.”

Candee would like to go on to graduate school, and she has been offered a graduate teaching and research assistantship at Mississippi State University to begin work in a biological sciences Ph.D. program. Eventually she looks forward to a career in public health.

Candee feels that she would not be where she is today without the Mentor/Mentee Program at William Woods, and the help of Spratt, Wilson and Katharine Mayne, assistant professor of biology, who all drilled her for the interview process.

“They were all very supportive,” Candee said.

Professor Spratt is extremely proud of Candee’s achievements, and can see her going far in life.

“It is great to see these opportunities open up for our students,” said Spratt. “After working for someone like Dr. Robert Massung for a year, she should have recommendations to help her get into any graduate school she wants.”