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Monica Fahrenholtz chosen for P.E.O. Scholar Award

By Shawn Hutchins

PEO Scholar Award_Monica Fahrenholtz  

Graduate student Monica Fahrenholtz is one of 85 women doctoral candidates who have been selected from across the U.S. and Canada to receive a 2013-2014 Scholar Award by P.E.O. International.

P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization that provides financial aid for the education of women. A Houston, TX chapter of the organization, Chapter AC/TX, coordinated efforts to nominate her for the merit-based scholarship that includes a one-time gift of $15,000.

Priority for P.E.O. Scholar Awards is given to women who are well established in their graduate programs. Fahrenholtz, a third-year bioengineering Ph.D. student, in Professor Jane Grande-Allen’s research group, uses engineering analysis to examine the behavior of cells residing in heart valve tissue and explore ways to recapitulate this behavior and function in heart valve replacements. In addition to advancing scientific knowledge of valvular cells and their functions, she is developing novel technologies and tissue engineering techniques to enhance the integration of prosthetic valve replacements with the patient’s own tissue. Her work is aimed at treating pediatric patients with congenital heart valve defects, who have unique needs that have not yet been addressed by currently available valve replacements.

Fahrenholtz graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Kansas State University. She joined Rice’s Ph.D. program in bioengineering in 2011 as a transfer student from the University of Texas at Austin where she conducted research in Associate Professor Yunzhi Yang’s laboratory studying the effects of growth factors on bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells.