Spotlight on UHP Students

Spotlight on a UHP Junior: Crystal Napoli


Crystal Napoli, a Hamel Scholar and a junior from Salem, NH, likes to stay busy.  In addition to majoring in History and Justice Studies, she also minors in Asian Studies, serves

Female UHP student wearing black shirt - head and shoulders only.
Crystal Napoli, Class of 2018

as the president of the Model United Nations, and takes trips with the Outing Club.  Considering how busy she is during the school year, you might think that she would take it easy over summer break, but in the last few years, Crystal’s summers have been booked solid. 

The summer after her freshman year, Crystal spent ten weeks at UNH as a Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) participant.  These awards, which are funded by the Hamel Center, provide high-achieving freshmen with the chance to work closely with a faculty mentor and to develop the research skills needed for other awards that require more independence.  Crystal, who has already won an International Research Opportunity Program (IROP) grant for next summer, attributes her success to the foundation that she acquired during that first summer as a REAP award recipient.  For her IROP project, she plans to travel to Taipei, Taiwan, where she will conduct research at National Taiwan University.  Her UNH mentor, Dr. Chris Reardon, a political science professor, will provide guidance, but Crystal will be largely independent as she studies the way Taiwanese textbooks represent native tribes.

In between her REAP summer (2015) and her IROP summer, which will take place in 2017, Crystal spent her most recent summer (2016) in the city of Changchun, China, where she participated in a language immersion program.  Along with twenty-six other Americans, Crystal took twenty hours of language classes every week and spent her afternoons learning about Chinese culture and conversing with her language partner, a local Chinese student.  Her participation in the program was funded by a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

Although Crystal was in China to study, she also had some time on the weekends to travel.  Her favorite trip was to the city of Harbin, which boasts a fascinating mixture of Chinese and Russian culture.  Now that she’s back in Durham, she misses the food and the people of northeastern China, where she spent most of her time.  She highly encourages all UHP students to apply for similar programs and to visit the offices in Hood House, where she discovered that there are far more opportunities for students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences than she had expected.  Thanks to her REAP, Critical Language Scholarship, and upcoming IROP, she feels that she has a lot of career options and looks forward to exploring them further.  

NB: Crystal received advice from the Office of Fellowships when applying for the Critical Language Scholarship

Written by Catherine M. Welter

Spotlight on a UHP Senior: Garrett Thompson

Male UHP student in red jacket - head and shoulders only
Garrett Thompson, Class of 2016

A few months ago, Garrett Thompson, a senior from Newmarket, NH, was hiking in the English Lake District and scaling peaks in Snowdonia National Park in Wales.  What else was this Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cellular Biology major doing in the United Kingdom?  He was trying to create a more effective way to predict breast cancer.

Thanks to a grant from the International Research Opportunities Program (IROP), Garrett conducted his summer research at the University of Chester, where he worked side by side with scientists from around the world.  In the university’s lab, he pursued a project that he had originally begun at UNH with his mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Halpern, whose background is in chemical engineering.  Garrett hypothesized that if he were to alter the methods used in a promising study from 2014, he might be able to improve our ability to detect breast cancer at the DNA level.  With his University of Chester advisor, Dr. Trevor Davies, Garrett overcame several problems, including surface oxidation on electrodes and variations in DNA diffusion, in his attempts to get a reliable set of data.  Now back in Durham for his final semester as a Wildcat, Garrett is continuing to work with the data he acquired in England.  He hopes that his research will contribute to the creation of a reliable, low-cost, point-of-care test that will enable doctors to diagnose breast cancer far earlier than is currently possible.    

After graduating in December of 2016, Garrett plans to apply to medical school, where he would like to specialize in emergency medicine.  In the meantime, he has already won two awards for his summer research and has found a job as a laboratory technician (level III) at Dartmouth College.  When asked if he has any advice for younger UHP students, Garrett recommended that they reach out to their professors, get involved in research, and take advantage of the generous funding that the Hamel Center offers.

NB: Garrett received advice and support from the Office of Fellowships on a recent Fulbright application

Written by Catherine M. Welter