Undergraduate students Aaron Buch and Nathan Esbenshade have been selected to receive research fellowships from The LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University this year.
Through The LeMieux Center Fellows Program, the two Frederick M. Supper Honors Program students will pursue an independent study of current or emerging public policy issues concerning individual freedoms, values, rights, religious liberties and institutions in the United States.
The fellows receive a stipend to cover the cost of an independent study course as well as expenses, such as travel, incurred during the course up to $2,500, as well as ongoing guidance for their research project from former U.S. Senator George LeMieux.
“This is really a great opportunity for me to work closely with both the student and faculty advisor,” said Senator LeMieux. “At the end of the day, I get more out of this than anyone, it’s a great joy of my life to be affiliated with Palm Beach Atlantic.”
Buch, a senior Medicinal and Biological Chemistry-Biological major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will study the scientific overview and Christian perspective on gene editing research. Dr. Kristiann Dougherty, professor of biology, will support Buch in his research.
“In the past twenty-five years, the field of genetics has seen a revolution of new developments sweep in and overturn much of what was known about DNA,” said Buch. “One of these discoveries that has had the most impact in recent years is the concept of gene editing. Researchers and scientists have the ability to alter any number of genetic conditions or create the ‘perfect’ individual or species all with relative ease and efficiency through the use of CRISPR-Cas9. This is by no means a new discovery to genetics, but the new-found application to selecting edit DNA is what has the science community buzzing with excitement.”
Buch is passionate about this issue and has the background knowledge required to understand the technology in genetic editing. Because of his work in Student Government, having served various roles during the past four years, including that of president, Buch also has unique leadership skills and qualities that will help him with his approach in this fellowship.
He is a student assistant at PBA’s men’s basketball team, helping during practices, road trips, and games as needed. His intent upon graduation is to pursue a career within the medical field.
A senior politics major from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Esbenshade has chosen to complete research on the theoretical and empirical analysis of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He will be assisted in his research by Dr. Linda Raeder, professor of political science.
“ I am a big fan of the free market,” said Esbenshade. “This trade agreement has some protectionist aspects to it that may have interesting implications for the market .”
Esbenshade has been involved in Student Government for the past two years. His first position was as the director of communications and now serves as the vice president of the Student Body. He has also volunteered with the Rosemary Village Afterschool Program and presently serves in the children’s ministry at Truth Point Church. Upon graduation, Esbenshade plans on pursuing a master’s degree in international development.
The fellowship application process included submission of a research proposal, résumé and a letter of support for the research from a faculty mentor. Selection of the fellows was based on the application and an interview.
Palm Beach Atlantic University is a private, independent university offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in West Palm Beach, Orlando and online. The University is dedicated to the integration of Christian principles to prepare students for learning, leadership and service.