UMKC alumna receives Fulbright Scholarship

Maria Iliakova will study biology in Barcelona, Spain

Maria Iliakova, a 2009 University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Biological Sciences and College of Arts and Sciences alumna with a triple major in Biology, Chemistry and Spanish, has received a Fulbright Scholarship to study biology in Barcelona, Spain.

Beginning in September, Iliakova will study development regulation of genetic transcription in Drosophila melanogaster – also known as the common fruit fly – in the laboratory of Dr. Johannes Jaeger at the EMBL Centre de Regulacio Genomica (EMBL/CRG). Iliakova will collect and analyze genetic and protein expression data from a set of gap genes that regulate the fruit fly’s embryonic development. Then, she will use this data to develop a quantitative model relating mRNA and protein production in living cells.

Iliakova plans to complete her master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Georgetown University by December of 2010.

Lawrence Dreyfus, Dean of the UMKC School of Biological Sciences, and Kathleen Kilway, Associate Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, served as Iliakova’s UMKC mentors.

“Dr. Kilway is already recognized as one of the best professors in the UM System,” said Iliakova. “On top of that, she is humble, supportive and a champion for her students; I cannot overstate Dr. Kilway’s positive impact on me.”

Of Dean Dreyfus, Iliakova said: “He goes out of his way to make others feel comfortable and valued. He advised me extensively in my last year at UMKC and proved to be a real champion for student success.”

UMKC’s International Academic Programs Office submitted six applications, all ranked at the highest levels by UMKC’s review committee. Derek Jenkins, a Conservatory of Music and Dance composition major who graduated from UMKC this spring, was named an alternate to study composition in Croatia. Three of the six were recommended out of the American commission to the designated international committees.

The Fulbright Program, America’s international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 294,000 people from more than 155 countries the opportunity to observe each others’ political, economic, educational and cultural institutions, exchange ideas and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants.

For more information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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