TILF Success Stories: Meet Alysha Joseph

Posted by Trudy Richards on 05/13/2013

Alysha presents at the NASA Space Center.

TILF scholar Alysha Joseph dared to take on college as a junior in high school. Through the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) program, Alysha has the unique opportunity of performing research, taking coursework, and living on a college campus before other students her age.

“I love to be challenged - UIL was one avenue for me to accomplish this,” she said.

Alysha started sharpening her skills by participating in spelling bees and science fairs in middle school. When her family moved to Rockwall in her eighth grade year, Alysha was introduced to UIL and began competing in UIL spelling and dictionary skills.

"I won 1st place in my school, district, and advanced to regionals both times," she recalled. "I qualifided for state during my sophomore year and placed 9th overall."

During her sophomore year at Rockwall-Heath High School, Alysha applied to the two-year residential program at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS), located at the University of North Texas (UNT)

“I accepted my admission and started college at UNT in fall 2011,” she said. “Looking back, I believe it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

“I have a heavy course load this semester with classes like Organic Chemsitry, Cal II, and University Physics and with respective labs,” she said in fall 2012, “I'm also taking History and World Lit for my humanities.”

She has the highest degrees in Biochemistry set in her sights, and plans to pursue biomedical research in the future.

With an MD/PhD, I aim to conduct pharmacological research in both laboratory and clinical settings,” she said, hopefully “bringing the scientific community closer to discovering treatments and cures for a host of diseases.”

Alysha’s first foray into scientific research has focused on a specific type of heart disease called familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes.

Inspired by my investigation of a potential drug candidate for familial HCM in the lab of Dr. Douglas Root, I plan to pursue drug development, one of the most critical junctions between biochemistry and medicine.” Alysha said.

She attended Dr. Root’s weekly laboratory meetings, learning about equipment and procedures before deciding to start her own summer research project on the connection between synthetic peptides and mutations that cause heart disease.

“Her compounds are being tested by several members of my laboratory using additional types of experiments,” Root said. “There is promise that her work could form the basis for establishing a lead compound that might be used to develop drugs.”

Alysha has also been listed as a co-author of the abstract “Synthetic Peptides Model Instability of Cardiac Myosin Subfragment-2,” which was submitted for presentation to the 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in Pennsylvania.

“I have been very impressed by Alysha’s work and by her simultaneous academic progress, “ Root said. “She is also well respected by other students in the laboratory.” Dr. Root described Alysha as having a “high degree of enthusiasm” for her work.

“My main passion is research,” she said, “I spend time every week in my lab, despite my busy schedule and I love every minute of it.”

Alysha volunteers her free time to helping other students and supporting various establishments like hospitals, libraries, middle schools, bookstores, and clinics.

“One of my major extracurricular activities is tutoring for biology each week,” she said. “I have a passion for teaching others, and I hope to teach in my future career.”


Written by Jan Ross Piedad


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