AUBURN – Paul Bergen, a senior in Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics double majoring in microbiology and German, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany for the 2012-13 academic year. At the Technical University of Munich, he will continue to pursue his research in microbiology.
“Paul is an inquisitive and engaging young man with a range of interests and activities that go well beyond the lab and range from the study of German politics, culture and language to being an active member of Auburn’s nationally recognized mock trial team,” said Paul Harris, associate director of the Auburn Honors College. “He will gain so much from his classes and interactions with German students and faculty and he will represent himself, Auburn University and the United States with distinction.”
A four-year member of the Honors College with a 3.97 overall grade-point-average in two demanding majors, Bergen is Auburn’s fourth consecutive Fulbright scholar, following Rebecca Ludvigsen, Germany, 2009, Helen Hunter Robertson, France, 2010 and Kristen Snow, France, 2011.
His achievements include being selected for the Competitive Undergraduate Research Fellowship for the 2010-2011 academic year; being named a Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Summer Fellow in 2011; and being named the College of Sciences and Mathematics’ top junior for 2010-2011. He is also a recipient of Auburn’s Presidential Scholarship.
For the past two years, Bergen has conducted his honors research under the guidance of Mark Liles, examining clones from a soil metagenomic library that have inhibitory activity against bacterial pathogens. Liles is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Bergen’s work in the Liles Laboratory is the basis for his honors thesis and it is this work that he will continue to pursue under the direction of professor Wolfgang Liebl at the Technical University of Munich.
“Shortly after entering Auburn, I accepted an invitation to join the lab of Dr. Mark Liles,” Bergen said. “The Liles Lab is devoted to discovering novel, natural antibiotics from soil bacteria. Under the direction of Dr. Liles, I discovered a love of seeing the experiment to the end and discovering that the data helps to confirm, or even contradict, a hypothesis. Sometimes, it is the experiments that reach an unexpected conclusion that help us out the most, and I have certainly found this to be true in my research. I always end up with additional questions which drive me to continue the pursuit of the final answer. This experience along with my desire to learn more about the German language and culture, strengthened my determination to pursue a Fulbright Scholarship to Germany.”
The Fulbright Scholarship Program is a highly selective, merit-based award designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Founded in 1946, the Fulbright Program competitively selects graduating seniors and graduate students who plan to conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad.
(Written by Neali Vann.)