Cheyenne Lee, from Cheraw, South Carolina, graduated in May of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology. During the summer of 2017, Cheyenne attended Yale University as part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP). In the summer of 2018, Cheyenne attended North Carolina State University as part of the Biotechnology-based Sequencing-based Undergraduate Research Experience (BIT SURE). Having the opportunity to attend both of these summer programs was a huge accomplishment of Cheyenne’s. She is also proud of her hard work throughout her studies, especially passing calculus two as a freshman. Being a member of the honors college was rewarding for Cheyenne in many ways, but the most rewarding aspect to her were the honors seminar classes. She said, “I really enjoyed the mental challenge because the courses were more discussion based which enabled us to be open and dig deeper.” Cheyenne explained that being a member of the honors college feels like home.
For Cheyenne’s senior project she conducted research with Dr. Sandefur studying the antibiotic properties of the St. John the Worker plant, also known as St. Andrew’s Cross. The plant is known for helping with bladder and stomach problems, which is why Cheyenne chose to study it. She wanted to test traditional Native American herbal medicines for antibiotic and medicinal properties in hopes to determine if the plant could be used to help people with type 2 diabetes. Native Americans are heavily affected by obesity and type 2 diabetes and because of that Cheyenne wanted to find a way to treat these individuals utilizing one of their own herbal remedies. Her goal was to bring attention to Native American traditional medicines which are often overlooked in pharmaceutical science research.
After graduation, Cheyenne attended graduate school at Emory University to obtain a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG). Cheyenne advises honors students to not overwork themselves, “This was a big mistake I made during my time at UNCP, and although I am proud of everything I have accomplished, I missed out on a lot of fun experiences.” She still encourages students to do their homework and study, but still have fun and do things outside of schoolwork. During her freshman year, Cheyenne was accepted into the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program as a RISE Fellow, and into the COMPASS scholar program. These programs awarded her scholarships that enabled her to continue her studies at UNCP which let her know, “Hey I can do this!” Having this opportunity to continue her education and start conducting research opened the door, and it is by far her happiest memory at UNCP.
Mentor: Conner Sandefur
Antimicrobial Properties of St. John the Worker Native American Herbal Tea