Two doctoral students inducted into Bouchet Honor Society

Two doctoral students were inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at the annual Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education March 28 at Yale University.


The 2009 Bouchet Fellows are N’Goundo Magassa, a doctoral student in the Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, and Veronica Shead, a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences.

The Bouchet Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate.

Its network of pre-eminent scholars exemplifies academic and personal excellence, character, service and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.

Yale and Howard universities established the Bouchet Society in 2005 to recognize the life and academic contributions of Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African-American to earn a doctorate from an American university. He earned a doctorate in physics from Yale in 1876.

Sheri R. Notaro, Ph.D., associate dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, coordinates the WUSTL chapter of the Bouchet Society.

“Both N’Goundo Magassa and Veronica Shead embody the qualities of Edward A. Bouchet through their pursuit of academic excellence, outreach and service,” Notaro said. “Their scholarly presentations at the Bouchet Society diversity conference at Yale were extremely impressive and well-received.”

Magassa’s research interests include understanding the methods used by bacterial pathogens to successfully infect human cells. Her dissertation research is focused on characterizing how the Streptococcus pyogenes pore forming protein streptolysin O translocates the S. pyogenes NAD glycohydrolase into host cells.


Magassa provides training, mentorship and guidance to graduate students who rotate through her lab. She also volunteers with the Junior Scientist Institute and helps recruit graduate students into doctoral programs at WUSTL, offering advice, support and encouragement.

Magassa, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in biochemistry in 2002 from Smith College, is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow.

Shead’s research efforts are focused on the area of hypertension and aging. Her dissertation, “Implementation of Hypertension Treatment Recommendations and Their Effect on Blood Pressure,” examines variables influencing the implementation of lifestyle change for their overall effect on blood pressure control.

Shead has been involved in outreach and service throughout her life. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., an organization dedicated to service, she has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with her family, facilitated a support group for adults with early-stage dementia, and, as a track coach at a St. Louis high school, mentored teenage girls.

Shead, who earned a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience in 2002 from Vanderbilt University, a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2003 and a master’s degree in psychology from WUSTL in 2006, is the recipient of a Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship.

WUSTL was invited to become a Bouchet chapter member in 2007, joining Georgetown and Cornell universities and the universities of Michigan and Washington.

The WUSTL Bouchet Society Selection Committee, which chose the third class of Bouchet Fellows this semester, comprises Richard J. Smith, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Ralph E. Morrow Distinguished University Professor; Notaro; Garrett A. Duncan, Ph.D., associate professor of education, of African and African American studies, of American culture studies and of urban studies, all in Arts & Sciences; and Leah Merrifield, special assistant to the chancellor on diversity initiatives.