A Tamaqua area college student pursuing the field of neurotransmitters has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

Arthur J. Argall of Lake Hauto, a University of Pennsylvania senior, has earned a Fulbright International Educational Exchange Program scholarship sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

"I was very happy," said Argall, 22, about learning that he had passed the second round of a rigorous application process.

Argall has earned a scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Argall said the application process was very competitive.

"There are two rounds to the competition. I knew in January I had made it through the first round." Argall's application, in part, included a personal statement.

"The second part is a proproal describing what you want to do and why you're suitable for it, and to identify resources in the host country."

Also required were three letters of recommendation.

By March, he knew he'd passed the second round. The award was announced May 4.

Argall will graduate this month from Penn's School of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. degree in biochemistry and an M.S. in chemistry. While at Penn, he conducted research in the neurophysiology lab of Claire Mitchell, research associate professor of physiology at Penn's School of Medicine and associate professor of anatomy and cell biology at Penn's School of Dental Medicine.

Argall also worked as a research peer adviser at Penn's Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. He served as co-editor in chief of the PennScience Undergraduate Research Journal and subcommittee co-chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education.

Argall will use his Fulbright research grant to investigate the relationship between glutamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid in the nervous system.

The field focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of gabasignaling.

"It involves certain types of neurotransmitters and their role in communication within the brain," he said.

One such hope, down the road, is that the field will shed new light and perhaps "get to the root of what causes epilepsy."

Argall has also been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Argall intends to enroll in a Ph.D. program at Yale University in the biological and biomedical sciences in the fall of 2012.

Argall is a 2007 graduate of Tamaqua Area Senior High School and son of David and Beth Argall, Lake Hauto.

He hopes to eventually pursue a career in science at a university, pharmaceutical company or bio-tech firm.

The Fulbright Program is designed to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Grant recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

The Fulbright Program is funded primarily though an annual congressional appropriation to the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is available at http://fulbright.state.gov.