Morgan State University students continue to breed excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Mikayla Harris — a senior from the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (SCMNS) — was awarded $15,000 from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) for 2021, Morgan State University announced.

“I wanted to apply to represent Morgan State as well as Black women in STEM,” said Harris. “There is not enough biomedical research that includes Black people, people of color and other minority groups.”

Harris is Morgan State University’s second consecutive scholar to win the highly competitive Astronaut Scholarship. In a nationwide selection, 60 top junior and senior STEM students across 44 universities were awarded the scholarship.

According to Morgan News, ASF was founded in 1984 to “aid the U.S. in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for exceptional college students pursuing degrees in those fields.”

Within her passion for STEM, the future scientist’s research focuses on racial health disparities among people of color in regards to “discrimination and its effect on brain inflammation, stress hormones and other inflammatory hormones in the body.”

“In learning more about Morgan, specifically the Student Research Center, I learned all about the research avenues that there were for people who were matriculating into STEM fields. There were a plethora of opportunities to create your own research projects,” said Harris. “Morgan has given me so many opportunities to think outside of the box and create research projects with my amazing PIs (principal investigators), Dr. Douglas Dluzen and Dr. Ingrid Tulloch.”

After recently being awarded the Neil Armstrong Award of Excellence, the ASF recipient was also inducted into the national Astronaut Scholar Honor Society.

“I want to emphasize how grateful I am for Morgan,” Harris said. “Morgan has definitely prepared me for opportunities like this scholarship and upon graduation, I will be prepared for opportunities to pursue what I really am interested in, which is helping my community and underrepresented individuals.”

Harris is set to graduate from Morgan a year early in Spring 2022 and plans to pursue a M.D.-Ph.D. to further study racial health disparities — especially in female infertility.