Chantell Balaan, ARCS Honolulu Scholar who has been recently recognized by her chapter for her high potential to advance science in Medicine, can hardly believe where she is today. A first generation college student, Balaan received the 2019 Koenig ARCS Award in Medicine on May 6 at the Outrigger Club in Waikiki.
The Koenig ARCS Award is awarded to Scholars that perform exceptionally in their field of study. It is supported by an endowment established by a long-time Honolulu Chapter member, the late Ellen M. Koenig.
Balaan is a third-year PhD student in the developmental and reproductive biology program at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. She developed an interest in behavioral research while volunteering in a lab at UH Manoa. She is being recognized for her research on how the relationship of brain-gut pathways affect autism spectrum disorder.
“Chantell is strongly motivated to be an established researcher in the field of animal behavior and biomedical research,” said Dr. Masato Yoshizawa, assistant professor at UH Manoa and Balaan’s Principle Investigator. “Not only is her research excellent, but everyone in our research lab appreciates her warm and caring personality. She is a really nice person to work with.”
While her research is complex, her story is simpler. Balaan started from humble beginnings. Growing up, she spent her days working on her grandparents’ farm in Koloa, Kauai. It was here that she developed an astute sense of observation as she learned the trade of harvesting the taro plant, a native Hawaiian root vegetable similar to a potato. This set of ingrained skills would prove invaluable as she carried them into her educational career. Balaan is grateful for her defining upbringing and the unconditional support from her family, who couldn’t be happier for her.
“After achieving this award, my family has told me that I am an inspiration to them,” Balaan said. “I hope that my story will inspire other students to pursue their goals, as well.”
Balaan also credits ARCS Foundation for its generous support during her work. She says she is honored and humbled to be chosen as an ARCS Scholar.
“ARCS scholars are very accomplished, intelligent, and represent the best of the best on campus and sometimes I can’t believe that I was awarded,” Balaan said.
For information on how to support passionate scholars like Balaan, click here.