Alan Pacheco Wins HHMI Gilliam Fellowship

PhD candidate is first BU graduate student to receive award

Alan Pacheco, a doctoral student in BU’s bioinformatics program, is studying how microbial communities communicate and interact. Photo by Lindsay A. Reamer

Alan Pacheco (ENG’15,’22), a PhD candidate in the Boston University Graduate Program in Bioinformatics, is the first BU graduate to receive a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study. The award provides support for three years of study toward a PhD in the life sciences for students underrepresented in the sciences and is made on the basis of a student’s promise as a scientific investigator, potential for leadership in the scientific community, and commitment to diversity. The fellowships are named for the late James H. Gilliam Jr., a charter trustee of the HHMI who spent his life fostering excellence and diversity in education and science.

Pacheco, who earned his bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from the BU College of Engineering, is entering his third year in bioinformatics, one of BU’s interdisciplinary programs. He works in the lab of Daniel Segrè, a BU professor of bioinformatics, biology, and biomedical engineering, studying how microbial communities communicate and interact. He hopes to harness this knowledge to design novel synthetic communities that perform complex functions. In addition to the Gilliam Fellowship, Pacheco also received a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in spring 2017.

Tom Tullius, a BU professor of chemistry, pharmacology, and experimental therapeutics and director of the bioinformatics program, was invited by the HHMI to submit a candidate for the Gilliam competition. He nominated Pacheco for his superior academic record, collaborative research, and commitment to improving diversity in the sciences.


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