Holy Cross Fenwick Scholar Finds Unique Opportunities to Go Beyond Science in HIV Research

“It’s not just about the science. It’s about how we can help other people with the science,” says Charles Millard ’22.

Throughout his senior year, Charles Millard ’22 said he had ample opportunities to fail, test his perseverance and improve his approach to scientific discovery, moments he might not have experienced had he not been selected as the College of the Holy Cross 2022 Fenwick Scholar.

"It changed the trajectory for the year. It’s not just about the science. It’s about how we can help other people with the science," he said. "The Fenwick Scholar Program gave me an opportunity to cap off my liberal arts education in a unique way. I love science, and I want to do that for the rest of my career. Here, I was given a chance to intensely focus on the science and then go beyond the science into the social sciences."

The Fenwick Scholar Program is the College’s highest student academic honor. Chosen by committee from a pool of students nominated by major departments, the scholar designs and participates in a rigorous academic project over the course of their senior year. At the conclusion of the year, the scholar gives a presentation to the College community during Academic Conference and submits a sample of their research to the College library.

In the lab, Millard researched a protein called APOBEC3G (A3G), which could provide opportunities for new HIV drug therapies. Millard didn’t just stay in the lab, though. Using a holistic approach to study the design of HIV drugs, he volunteered with local nonprofit AIDS Project Worcester in the community relations department helping implement projects and write grants and handbooks for their programs.

"I have been researching HIV in the lab for four years now. It’s an illness so tied up with stigma and other issues of social justice…My work at AIDS Project Worcester has been a critical part of my project," he said.

Millard worked primarily in the lab of Ann Sheehy, professor of biology, and received additional support from Robert M. Bellin, professor of biology, and Michelle A. Mondoux, associate professor of biology, in the areas of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, respectively, when considering the biological aspects of his research and interpreting data. In addition, Millard worked closely with Tsitsi B. Masvawure, professor of practice in health studies and health studies program, and Stephenie R. Chaudoir, professor of psychology, to shape his approach to working with and talking to patients at AIDS Project Worcester.

"I’m excited to see where the research heads in the future," he said.

Millard will continue his studies at Johns Hopkins University where he will pursue a doctorate in molecular biology.

Read more about Millard’s research of A3G and his work at AIDS Project Worcester here.

Video by Avanell Chang, multimedia producer. 

Related coverage:

Holy Cross Names Charles Millard ’22 as the 2021-22 Fenwick Scholar

Holy Cross Student Summer: Charlie Millard ‘22