Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dawn Allenbach at UW April 25-26

On Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26, Dawn Allenbach, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Orleans, will visit the University of Wyoming to share her experience as a scientist and to talk about her research. This week on the blog, we would like to share her biography and encourage you to attend her presentations. 

Dawn M. Allenbach, MS

Ph.D. candidate in Conservation Biology

Dawn M. Allenbach was born with a neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).  SMA is a genetic recessive disorder that prevents skeletal nerves from transmitting signals to skeletal muscles, causing them to progressively atrophy over time.  She first showed signs of the disease at around 18 months of age but was not definitively diagnosed until the age of three years.  Doctors immediately advised that Dawn and her sister Stacy (one year of age, also diagnosed with SMA) be placed in an institution because of the great amount of physical care they would require over their life span, which the doctors said would not exceed 20 years.  Fortunately, her parents didn’t listen.  They chose to raise all three of their children (including little brother Paul, six years Dawn’s junior, who was also diagnosed at one year of age) in the same manner as they would a child without the disease.
 Dawn’s father told her and her siblings early in their lives, “You WILL go to college.  End of discussion.”  To that effect, Dawn graduated high school as a member of the National Honor Society (NHS) in 1989, from Hutchinson Community College (AA in biology) as a member of Phi Theta Kappa NHS in 1991, and from Wichita State University (BS in biological sciences) as a member of Golden Key NHS and Mortar Board NHS in 1994.  She went on to earn her MS in biological sciences, emphasis in ecology and environmental toxicology, from WSU in 1997. Dawn is proud to say she graduated with a mere $1000.00 of debt, thanks to the grants and academic scholarships that paid for her undergraduate degree and a teaching assistanceship she held during her graduate degree.  Dawn is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the conservation biology program at the University of New Orleans and plans to defend her dissertation this summer.  During her studies at UNO, she received the Louisiana State Board of Regents Superior Graduate Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.  Both her masters and Ph.D. work have examined the effects of pesticide runoff on fish.  In the future, she hopes to also examine the full life cycle effects of residual nanoparticles on fish.
 Much hated in her life is the fact that Dawn has outlived both her siblings.  Stacy died in 2001 at the age of 27.  She was four months short of achieving her elementary education degree from Western Illinois University; however, the university did posthumously grant her degree.  Paul died in 2007 at the age of 30.  He was six months short of receiving his master of arts in English literature from Wichita State University; again, his degree was posthumously granted, and his parents were invited to a special awarding of his diploma during graduation.  Dawn has determined to be fully, corporeally present for her hooding ceremony in honor of her two first and best friends.

Please join us Thursday, April 25 at 11a.m. in the Union Family room (212) for Dawn’s presentation of Dairy of a Gimpy Kid: The Adventures of a Would-be Biologist, and on Friday, April 26 at 12:10 p.m. in room 138 of the Berry Center for Effects of Climate Change and Land Use-Related Stressors on Medaka (Oryzias latipes).

By Dawn Allenbach

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