Daniella Leal Espinal: Institute of Medicine Fellowship recipient

The University of Maine’s Center for Undergraduate Research announced in November the first winners for two recently established fellowship programs.  Supported by the Office of Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, CUGR created the UMaine Institute of Medicine and UMaine Artificial Intelligence fellowships this year and awarded fellowships to fourteen undergraduate students for the 2020–2021 academic year. Undergraduate proposals were awarded $1,200 each.

Daniella Leal Espinal, a University of Maine undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology received one of the Institute of Medicine Fellowship.  She has been researching how the mechanisms in which black soldier fly larvae grow have antibiotic properties in Dr. Edward Bernard’s lab.

Daniella says that the research she is doing “gives me that sense of importance and motivation that it will go further and will be helpful for other people.” Her research is helping to provide a better alternative for antibiotics which is essential because the effect that the overuse of current antibiotics and the present state of antibiotic resistance has on people and the environment is extremely harmful. “I feel like I am really doing something useful that will contribute,” says Daniella and, “without the fellowship, I probably would have done something, but it would not have been to the scale that I am able to do it currently. I feel very lucky!”. 

Alongside the fellowship, Dr. Edward Bernard has also been an eminent form of support for Daniella through her research.  “He has been completely understanding and very encouraging and really paved the way for things to be possible today… if he has to stay until seven at night helping me out or another of the advisees out, he will do it,” said Daniella, who was so thankful for having an advisor like Dr. Bernard with her research over the years. 

“I am so thankful for those sponsoring me because they are making this project possible!”