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Graduate Student Receives National Fellowship

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Lufuno Phophi is a CEM student dressed in a white coat working in a lab

Lufuno Phophi (pictured above), a University of Tennessee Comparative and Experimental Medicine student pursuing her Ph.D., was selected to participate in the inaugural American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Future Leaders Mentoring Fellowship (FLMF). She is one of 125 fellows participating in the inaugural program.

The program is designed to support senior undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral students from underrepresented groups who demonstrate an interest in the microbial sciences and seek mentorship in navigating their career trajectory.

In the first year of the program, Phophi will be matched with a team of mentors and participate in skillset training, structured mentoring, community building, and networking activities at the ASM Microbe, the society’s annual event that showcases the best microbial sciences in the world. In the second year of the program, she will become a peer mentor to the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Scientists (ABRCMS) undergraduate students in the microbiology discipline and serve as an ABRCMS session moderator. In an optional third year, Lufuno will be invited to serve as an ABRCMS judge and an ASM mentoring ambassador to incoming cohorts.

Lufuno explains why she applied for the ASM FLMF. “I am currently in the third year of my Ph.D.. I think a lot about my next career move, and I need all the career guidance I can get across all microbiology sectors. I am interested in molecular microbiology, epidemiology, as well as antibiotic resistance and stewardship. The ASM has astonishing members from all these disciplines, and I believe building such networks will set my career on a successful trajectory through the fellowship.”

During the fellowship, Lufuno is most excited about learning from successful women in the microbial science community as sees them as mentor. She looks forward to learning different networking and collaboration skills she can successfully implement in her academia and entrepreneurship microbial career. Lufuno is excited to be a peer mentor to undergraduate students in the microbiology discipline during her second year of the fellowship.