May 17, 2017
College Station, TX – Joshua Fuller ’17 of Flagstaff, Arizona, has been selected as the 2017 Texas A&M nominee for the national Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship competition. Each year, Phi Kappa Phi – the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines – awards fifty-one Fellowships of $5,000 each and six at $15,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Fuller received a $500 scholarship as the nominee from the local chapter. The finalists of the national fellowship recipients will be announced in early June.
Fuller, an Honors Psychology and Spanish double major, graduated in May 2017 and will begin his studies in the fall towards a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Boston University. In conjunction with his graduate studies, Josh will conduct Alzheimer’s disease research at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Josh will be working on the Colombian Kindred Cohort study of autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease – a study of the rare form of familial Alzheimer’s disease that has been featured on “60 Minutes.” Josh is interested in neuropsychological assessment of Alzheimer’s disease and hopes to contribute to the better characterization of the subtlest cognitive changes that constitute the earliest detectable preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding these subtle cognitive changes is crucial research that tandems with pharmacological advancement; whenever a preclinical prevention medication is available for Alzheimer’s disease, identifying the earliest changes of the disease is critical to successful administration of the drug before significant neurodegeneration occurs.
During his time at Texas A&M University, Josh has conducted research with Dr. Steve Balsis and Dr. Annmarie MacNamara. In the Balsis lab, Josh has teamed up with graduate students and Dr. Balsis to use large national databases of Alzheimer’s disease patients and advanced statistical modeling to investigate unanswered questions about the basic science of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2016, he completed his undergraduate Honors thesis which presented an empirically-driven model of temporal lobe sub-region degeneration across the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum. He also investigated the relationship between neuropsychiatric symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, hallucinations, etc.) and the Alzheimer’s disease continuum, presenting this statistical model in 2016 at the National Academy of Neuropsychology 36th Annual Meeting where he was awarded a coveted student poster award. In the fall of 2016, Josh also joined the lab of Dr. MacNamara where he worked alongside other lab members to use electroencephalogram (EEG) to investigate emotions in psychiatric health and disease.
For Josh, Phi Kappa Phi’s motto – “Let the Love of Learning Rule Humanity” – means far more than learning inside of the classroom. Josh has been widely involved at Texas A&M University, serving as the President of the Honors Student Council and Chair of the Student Affairs Fee Advisory Board. Josh has also mentored students as a Fish Camp counselor and peer mentor in the Honors Housing Community. Drawing on these experiences, in 2016 he helped found and direct two new student organizations: Texas A&M Christian Healthcare Leaders and Texas Aggies Fighting Alzheimer’s. Josh also worked part time for the Alzheimer’s Association, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit, as the Bryan/College Station area’s regional outreach intern. Through his work, Josh helped coordinate the 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – a fundraising and awareness event attended by 650 walkers that raised $75,000 for Alzheimer’s research, support, and care. In recognition for his academic achievement, impact at A&M, and contributions to the community, Josh was awarded the Brown Foundation Ear Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award at graduation in May of 2017.
When asked to offer advice to future fellowship applicants, Fuller said:
“I think an important concept that Texas A&M has taught me is that my education is not about me… it is about how I can best use my skills to better mankind. As an applicant for the Phi Kappa Phi fellowship, I think it is important to emphasize how your education will allow you to shape our world for the better. By participating in service activities and leadership positions, you can demonstrate to the committee that you are committed to using your education to improve the lives of others through the ‘love of learning.’”