Two ‘truly inspiring’ doctoral students join Bouchet Honor Society

The Washington University Bouchet Honor Society Selection Committee chose its fourth class of Bouchet Fellows.


The 2010 Bouchet Fellows are Kelly Diggs-Andrews, a doctoral student in the Molecular Cell Biology Program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, and Christie T. Spence, a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences.

The students were inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at the annual Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education March 27 at Yale University.

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.

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


“It is a privilege to participate in the recognition of the talented Washington University students who are selected as members of the Bouchet Honor Society,” Notaro says. “Their scholarship, activism and dedication to improving the lives of others are truly inspiring.”

Diggs-Andrews’ dissertation focuses on understanding the role of brain insulin signaling in the hypoglycemic counterregulatory response. Specifically, her project uses the neuronal insulin receptor knockout (NIRKO) mouse to determine the mechanisms by which insulin may regulate hypothalamic glucose sensing via regulation of key glucose sensing proteins (glucose transporters and/or glucokinase) and correlate these insulin-modulated changes with neuronal activity under conditions of hypoglycemia.

Implications of her work will provide a better understanding of how the brain regulates the counterregulatory response to hypoglycemia to devise therapies to combat severe hypoglycemia in insulin-treated diabetic patients.

She received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to fund her dissertation research. She contributes to numerous outreach and diversity initiatives through her participation in Washington University student groups, including the Association of Black Biomedical Graduate Students and the Young Scientists Program.

Diggs-Andrews, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2005 from Alabama State University, is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University.

Spence’s research interests include personality assessment, personality disorders and personality in African-American adults. Her dissertation research is focused on the relationships between psychological well-being, racial identity and personality in African-American adults.

Spence, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2005 from Spelman College, also is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University. She recently presented her work at the inaugural Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Research Symposium.

An active volunteer, Spence engages in community service activities throughout St. Louis.

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.

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

WUSTL’s Bouchet Society Selection Committee is composed of Richard J. Smith, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Ralph E. Morrow Distinguished University Professor; Notaro; Garrett A. Duncan, PhD, director and associate professor of African and African-American studies, and associate professor of education, of American culture studies, and of urban studies, all in Arts & Sciences; and Leah Merrifield, special assistant to the chancellor on diversity initiatives.