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Avila Awarded Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship
(center), PhD candidate in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences is awarded with a 2013 Senator
Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship. He received his award from
Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, Dr. Karen Butler-Purry
(left) and Provost, Dr. Karan Watson (right).
COLLEGE STATION, TX - Felipe Avila, a Ph.D. candidate in the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences (CVM), won the prestigious 2013 U.S. Senator Phil Gramm
Doctoral Fellowship. This award, which includes a $5000
scholarship, is given to recognize students' exemplary
contributions in research, teaching, and mentoring in their
"Felipe is a tremendous role model for not only our
undergraduate students, but also our graduate students. Through his
mentorship and teaching, he has touched many lives, and has
demonstrated the success that comes with hard work and dedication.
We are very proud of Felipe and extend him our sincere
congratulations," said Dr. Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of
Originally, Avila came to study horses, but when the opportunity
arose to focus on alpacas, he took it. Alpacas, a type of camelid
originally from South America, are prized in the United States
primarily for their fiber. Working in the Laboratory of Animal
Molecular Cytogenetics and Genomics, under the supervision of Dr.
Terje Raudsepp, Avila's research focuses on chromosome structure
and evolution in camelids, particularly the alpaca, as well as
chromosomal abnormalities that affect the health of different
camelid species. His Ph.D. research project involves generating a
whole genome map for the alpaca. With this study, Avila aims to
integrate genome sequence data with physical chromosome information
to obtain the location of various genetic markers, such as those
for disease resistance, congenital disorders, reproduction, fiber
color, and texture. His goal is to lay the foundation for research
on genetic contributions to traits of economic and biological
importance in different camelid species.
"I couldn't have chosen a better project," Avila said.
He enjoys teaching too. As a teaching assistant for the
undergraduate-level Biomedical Genetics course in the Biomedical
Sciences (BIMS) program for two years, he worked for three
"I was really disappointed," he said, "when my advisor suggested
I stop teaching and focus on my research." Now, he focuses on
mentoring the undergraduate students working in Dr. Raudsepp's
"I like to mentor," Avila said. "It's important to pass on our
Only ten students throughout the university were awarded the
U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship this year. Dr. Bhanu P.
Chowdhary, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies at
the CVM, also sent his congratulations. Chowdhary, who is on
Avila's graduate committee, was the one who first encouraged him to
apply for the fellowship.
"Felipe has truly distinguished himself in both the classroom
and the laboratory," Chowdhary said. "He is deserving of this
honor, and we couldn't be more proud that he has been recognized
for his efforts."
Avila's advisor, Dr. Raudsepp, nominated him, and the professors
for whom he served as a teaching assistant wrote letters of
"Felipe is an exceptional graduate student and we are very
fortunate to have him," Raudsepp said. "As a scientific advisor, I
certainly value his achievements in research, though it is even
more important that Felipe is a wonderful person-intelligent,
knowledgeable, invariably friendly, patient and helpful, always a
gentleman. Our undergraduate students adore him as a mentor and we
all love him as a good colleague. I have no doubt that Felipe will
become an outstanding researcher, scholar and teacher in his future
Avila obtained his Bachelor's degree in Biology from the
University of Brasilia (Brazil) in 2005, and joined the Department
of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) at the CVM in
Avila, along with the other nine honorees, was recognized at an
awards ceremony on April 4th, where Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, the
Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, presented him with a framed
certificate. Avila and the other nine recipients were also special
guests that evening at the 2013 Community of Scholars dinner
program, which was also attended by Dr. Raudsepp and Dr.
"We are especially grateful to Dr. Phil Gramm, former U.S.
Senator and former professor of Economics at Texas A&M," said
Butler-Purry, "for his support that made this outstanding program
For more information about the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our
website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook.
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
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