Religious Studies Major Wins Nugent Award

May 10th, 2021

Alyssa Jean Peterson, graduating with a triple major in Religious Studies, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Biochemistry, will receive the University’s Robert Logan Nugent Award.


Peterson, graduating magna cum laude, is one of two recipients of the award, given to students who display a record of accomplishments that exemplifies the high ideals of Robert Logan Nugent, a former University of Arizona executive vice president.


In 2016, Peterson had the opportunity to serve the community of Rusinga, Kenya. The experience piqued her interest in mosquito vector disease research. Following her return, Peterson applied to Roger Miesfeld's lab in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, where researcher Jun Isoe mentored, taught and supported her as she pursued her passion for science and interest in mosquito research. Together they authored a research paper, "Characterization of Essential Eggshell Proteins from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes," which was published on the biological sciences preprint repository bioRxiv. 


A love of cultures moved Peterson to add a religious studies major in 2020. She aspires to help people live healthier lives by combining cultural understanding with groundbreaking scientific discoveries to be the best public health professional possible.


Peterson is involved in several campus leadership positions, including serving as president of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Club, vice president of Women in Medicine and Science, College of Science health ambassador, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry ambassador, peer mentor and a member at the COVID Ambassadors Team, which operates a hotline to provide public health information and assistance. She was awarded the Microscopy Society of America Undergraduate Research Scholarship in 2020 and an American Chemical Society Hach Land-Grant Scholarship. She was recognized as Biochemistry Student of the Month in September 2019 and August 2020, and received a Fred and Barbara Borga Award, which supports outstanding undergraduate students who are majoring in religious studies with a concentration in Religious Studies for Health Professionals.


After graduation, Peterson will take a gap year. She then plans to pursue a doctorate in infectious disease research and work on bringing vaccines, interventions and health education to underserved communities around the world. 


Originally published by University Communications.