Two doctoral students named Bouchet Fellows

Bouchet Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement, promotes diversity

The Washington University Bouchet Honor Society Selection Committee has chosen its fifth class of Bouchet Fellows.

The 2011 Bouchet Fellows are Pascale Guiton, a doctoral student in the Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, and Natecia Williams, a doctoral student in the Neuroscience Program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.

The students were inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at the annual Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education March 26 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.

“Washington University is fortunate to have two impressive scholars join the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society,” Notaro says. “Both Pascale Guiton and Natecia Williams embody the qualities of Dr. Edward A. Bouchet — outstanding scholarship coupled with a sincere commitment to community service and outreach.”


Guiton’s dissertation project in the laboratory of Scott Hultgren, PhD, the Helen L. Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology and director of the center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research, focuses on understanding the process of biofilm development by the Gram positive bacterium Enterococcus faecalis and its contribution during the establishment of catheter-associated mono- and polymicrobial urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).

Implications of her work will provide a better understanding of E. faecalis as a uropathogen, elucidate the general characteristics of single and multi-species bacterial communities during CAUTIs, and possibly uncover novel E. faecalis virulence factors that may serve as potential therapeutic targets in the fight against these infections.

Guiton has received several awards, including the Robert A. Watkins Graduate fellowship award from the American Society of Microbiology. Guiton, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Georgia State University in 2005, participates in several outreach programs and mentoring activities at Washington University.


Williams’ thesis project focuses on the role of microRNAs in the development and disease of photoreceptors in the retina. Photoreceptors are the primary sensory neurons of the retina and are prone to a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases that cause blindness.

Her project will help to better understand photoreceptor degeneration and potentially lead to new therapeutic strategies for treating retinal diseases.

Williams, who works in the laboratory of Joseph C. Corbo, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology and of genetics, has received a Chancellor’s Fellowship and an appointment to the Genetic Analysis Training Grant to fund her research.

Recently, she received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. She participates in various outreach and diversity groups at Washington University, such as the Association of Black Biomedical Graduate Students and organizes recruitment activities with the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences’ Diversity Office.

Williams, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from DePauw University in 2004, is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University. She recently presented her work at the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Research Symposium.

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 comprises Richard J. Smith, PhD, dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Ralph E. Morrow Distinguished University Professor; Notaro; and Leah Merrifield, executive director for academic-civic engagement in the Office of Government and Community Relations.