University of Georgia Cancer Center

Amazing Student - Sonia Talathi

Sonia  Talathi

Sonia Talathi’s interest in health and medicine ranges from the cellular mechanisms involved in prostate cancer to global health education campaigns. She’s presented findings of research that she started as a freshman at a national Society of Toxicology meeting and is working to get her findings published in a peer-reviewed journal. She’s also presented research findings in Costa Rica and has traveled to Uganda, where she did medical volunteer work and was inspired to focus on public health in developing nations. A double major in cell biology and broadcast news, she plans to attend medical school and then travel to developing countries to help them set up health news networks to disseminate information that can keep people healthy.


May 2009


B.S. in Cell Biology and A.B. in Broadcast News

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I started my freshman year as a Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities apprentice, conducting prostate cancer research in the lab of Brian Cummings. Through my research I have been awarded the Pfizer Undergraduate Award, CURO summer fellowship and was selected to present at the 2007 UGA-Universidad de Costa Rica International Symposium on the UGA campus in San Luis, Costa Rica. I have published an abstract for the 2007 Society of Toxicology Conference and I am currently working on publishing a research paper with my lab. Outside of research, I have been awarded the Bank of America Joe Martin Scholarship, Governor’s Scholarship and the Willson International Scholarship to travel to Africa. I spent the summer of 2007 doing medical volunteering in a village in Uganda. This trip has had a major influence on me, and I’m currently co-president of UGA Footsteps, where we are raising money to build a school in Africa and send medical supplies. Here in Athens, I volunteer by teaching English as a second language for Hispanic adults and I shadow Dr. Neal Priest at St. Mary’s Hospital. On campus, I am a Grady Ambassador, Honors Ambassador and a member Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-medical fraternity. I am also a member of the Indian Cultural Exchange, where I served as India-Nite co-chair in 2007.

High School:

Alpharetta High School


Alpharetta, Georgia

Family ties:

I'm first generation American so I’m hoping to start many family ties to UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because...

After touring the campus and seeing everything that the Honors program and CURO had to offer, I knew Athens would be the perfect fit for me.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

I love to walk through the Horticulture Gardens or around North Campus. I also love to play tennis at the intramural fields and, of course, the football games!

When I have free time, I like...

I like to read, hang out with my friends or grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Unfortunately, I haven’t been buying a lot of coffee lately.

The craziest thing I've done is...

It is a tie between white water rafting on grade 5 rapids on the Nile while I was in Uganda and zip-lining through the rainforest in Costa Rica.

My favorite place to study is...

I like to study at the science library and the reading room in the Student Learning Center because I enjoy quiet, but like having other people around me. Both these environments are perfect for enabling me to concentrate. Since I live off campus, I can go there after my classes and have more time to study.

My favorite professor is...

Brian Cummings, who is my research mentor, in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences department. He has really challenged my mind and allowed me to conceptualize science through different perspectives. Dr. Cummings has given me the opportunity to go beyond the lab bench and present my research at the Society of Toxicology and numerous other conferences. His unique way of guiding me in a one-on-one setting has provided me with the encouragement, understanding and direction I need to pursue my goals. In the classroom/lecture setting, Professor David Hazinski stands out among all other professors. He is the head of the broadcast news department and has pushed me to look at the world through another “lens.”

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

Oprah Winfrey. Since I was young I have watched her show with my mom. I really admire her not only for her unique selection of guests/topics but all the philanthropy that she does around the world. Now that I am a broadcast news major, I can acknowledge and sense her remarkable broadcasting abilities. To me, Oprah epitomizes using the media profession to impact people and make a global difference - something I hope to do in the future.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

Ensure that everyone around the globe has access to affordable medical care. While I was in a village in Uganda I saw firsthand suffering due to the unavailability of proper medical care. The images of the local kids that we played with that came down with a terrible case of malaria but never got any treatment have really burned into my mind. In the future I want to work on alleviating this problem as much as possible.

After graduation, I plan to...

Attend medical school. After getting my medical degree I want to travel to developing countries and help them set up health news networks. News networks are rapidly developing in many poverty stricken countries; however a health news division is almost always overlooked. Health news would be an ideal medium for informing the population about disease prevention and treatment.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

Presenting my research at the 2007 Society of Toxicology Conference in Charlotte, N.C. I had to give an oral presentation about my research to scientists and professors. I could never believe that as an undergrad I could hold my own in front of PhDs and answer their questions! Dr. Cummings and CURO have allowed me to do undergraduate research that has brought the best out me.