Emmanuella Nnuji-John accepts remote internship in scientific research at Duke University

An Alcorn State University student is furthering her pursuit of becoming a scientific researcher during her summer internship.

Emmanuella Nnuji-John, a senior biochemistry major, is spending her summer as a remote research intern with the Duke University Medical Center. The internship was made possible through the National Summer Undergraduate Research Program (NSURP), which created an initiative to allow underrepresented minority students to be paired with a research mentor.

John’s research focuses on understanding the interactions between viruses and their hosts. The study also focuses on highlighting RNA regulatory controls that induce or mediate immune responses in the body.

The opportunity gives John a chance to expand her horizons in research at one of the country’s best universities.

“Through this internship, I am building my intellectual foundation on immunology and the viral life cycle,” said John. “I get to work on cutting-edge research with top scientists at one of the country's leading research universities.”

Being allowed to participate in a remote setting is one of the internship highlights for John. She appreciates the program’s effort to enhance her knowledge while social distancing.

“One of the most remarkable things about this internship is how the research was designed to be done while remote and social distancing. I can work on projects and be an active member of the lab from a distance.”

Human anatomy has always fueled John’s interest in scientific research. Attending Alcorn and learning from her mentors inspired her to take advantage of everything that science has to offer.

“My fascination with science and research stems from my innate curiosity about the human body and chemistry. My decision to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) was established after joining a genomics lab at Alcorn’s biotechnology center under the tutelage of Dr. Chris Zhang and Dr. Yan Meng. The possibilities in scientific research are endless, so I have sought opportunities that would allow me to explore these possibilities to become competitive in the field.”

Her studies under Zhang and Meng have equipped John for opportunities such as her current one at Duke. She praises her mentors’ teaching and the University for giving her a foundation in her learning.

“My research experience in Dr. Zhang’s lab at Alcorn has prepared me for this opportunity. Working with virus detection and understanding their infection mechanisms while at Alcorn has helped me build a solid framework for my work at Duke.”

Despite the current state of the world, John is happy to do what she loves while gaining valuable experience that would help her in her future career as a scientist.

“This summer has proven to be very promising, besides the unfortunate events that our world has experienced. Scientific innovation never stops.”