Heather Frank to pursue Ph.D. at Harvard after Summers Lab nurtured her passion for HIV research

Heather Frank
B.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Rawlings, Maryland
Plans: Ph.D., Harvard University

The amazing mentorship I have received at UMBC has brought me the courage and confidence I needed to apply to competitive graduate programs and pursue my Ph.D.… The environment here provided me all the opportunities so I could become my best self.

Heather Frank is an accomplished biochemist whose experiences in Michael Summers’s lab have grown and supported her passion for research. From her work in the lab, “I learned how to push myself to work hard even when experiments did not go well, and how to utilize results that were unexpected,” she says. “I also learned to truly love the process of research, whether it is a success or a failure.”

Frank (second from left) poses with labmates after a research presentation to the Summers lab group.

Frank’s work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has contributed to characterization of the HIV genome and the virus’ interaction with accessory proteins. She shares, “I developed a passion for understanding how processes work at a molecular level and performing research that can be utilized in the development of new therapies for patients.”

Frank is a member of the inaugural cohort of Hill-Lopes Scholars, a UMBC program that supports women in STEM fields. She also received the American Chemical Society Chesapeake Chemist Award and UMBC Faculty Award for Excellence. In addition to her work in the lab, Frank serves as the lead resident assistant in UMBC Residential Life..

Thinking back on her time at UMBC, Frank says, “The environment here provided me all the opportunities so I could become my best self.” Accepted to several top-ranked graduate programs, she will pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Harvard University.

Portrait by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.