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Feldman Summer Research Scholars

Elaine R. Feldman Summer Research Fellowship

The Elaine R. Feldman Summer Research Fellowship is a scholarship offered to WISE RP students in LSA who want to participate in research for the spring/summer terms. Recipients have a research commitment of at least 20-30 hours per week for 10 weeks, and the scholarship is intended to offer financial support to do so. Students offer their reactions to the research experience:

Feldman Scholars Summer 2017

Anna Li Aguirre

Class of 2019
Major: Chemistry; Neuroscience

Hope Norris

Class of 2020
Major: Neuroscience; Gender and Health

Lindsay Rasmussen

Class of 2019
Major: Environmental Engineering

Past Scholars

Emma Kilbane

I come from Hopkins, MI, which is near Grand Rapids. I am a freshman this year so I haven’t declared a major yet, but I am considering a Neuroscience and Spanish double major. Ultimately, I would like to attend medical school.This summer, I have the incredible opportunity to work in the Neurodevelopment and Regeneration Laboratory under Dr. Jack Parent. The team is working to understand the biology of neural stem cells in the neonatal and adult brain, and the response of neural stem cells to brain injury.  The goal is to advance knowledge of how brain injury and neural stem cells interact, to use to devise brain repair strategies based on the manipulation of endogenous or transplanted neural precursors. This would aid in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, as well as epilepsy, among other things. I am very interested in this project and I hope to continue it throughout my undergraduate career.I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to start doing research this summer, thanks to the generous scholarship. The scholarship is also making it possible for me to live in Ann Arbor and take a class while I’m here. 

Christina Tang

My name is Christina Tang and I'm from New York City. I am a rising sophomore in the college of Literature, Science, and the Arts looking to major in either Neuroscience or Cell and Molecular Biology with future plans of attending pharmacy school.This past summer I was able to work in Dr. Neamati's Design and Discovery of Small Molecule Anti-Cancer Drugs research laboratory. The research mainly focused on discovering inhibitors for the GRP 78 protein, a protein that's over-expressed in several types of cancer and knocking it down has been shown to have therapeutic benefit. The main goal is to develop any drug leads we discover for cancer, in particular breast cancer.As a freshman, I did not have the opportunity to work in a research lab so being able to work full-time in a Dr. Neamati's research lab allowed me to quickly adapt to the everyday procedures of working in a lab. Although at first it was hard to adapt since everyone else in the lab had prior research experience, all the personnel in the lab were friendly and they patiently taught me research techniques and concepts. Our final goal was to get results and to collaborate with other labs in the complex to develop a drug that would help patients in the affiliated University of Michigan hospital afflicted with rare types of diseases. But to get to this point much preparation was needed and I had start from learning how to pipette correctly to protein purification and then finally I was able to run screens and cell-based assays by myself.Thanks to the Elaine R. Feldman summer research scholarship, I was able to stay in Ann Arbor for the summer and experience research as a full-time career. Though I do not think that I will continue this as my future career, I have gained many things from this experience and throughout the next academic year I will continue to stay with Dr. Neamati's lab. I think being able to learn about drug development and the work that goes into it will definitely help me in my future career as a pharmacist and I look forward to continuing my research in the upcoming year.

Laima Augustaitis

Hello! My name is Laima and I’m a second year student studying human movement science with additional concentration in surgical neuromonitoring (IONM program). How the body functions at the cellular level, as well neurophysiological movement articulation, fascinates me. I know that my future is in healthcare, although I have not yet decided in what capacity that place is.  

This generous fellowship contribution from the WISE RP alumni captures an essence of what makes WISE RP the program it is. I am going to spend the summer working in the Stem Cell Core on a project observing potential mitochondrial functional differences in patients with Bipolar Disorder compared to individuals without the disease.  Although we mimic research methods in laboratory courses, we don’t experience the fun part of getting interesting results and I’m really excited to finally have that opportunity.

I have been a work-study student in the lab this semester, doing office work and cleaning lab supplies. Through this, I’ve been able to see the important research being done and asked my lab manager if there were any possibilities of staying over the summer to gain research experience. I learned that there are so many potential facets of Bipolar Disorder to tackle, and the lab manager mentioned using the glial cell astrocytes. The cool thing about the research done in the lab is the stem cells we are using to create astrocytes are non-embryonic (iPSC cells). They are undifferentiated and then re-differentiated somatic cells from skin biopsies. The connection of the project to my courses in neurophysiology make this not only an introduction to investigative design, but also a practice of my course material in a real-life setting.

The only remaining hurdle after that conversation was to find funding to be able to stay in Ann Arbor. This fellowship provides me that, and I’m so grateful.

Kayla Dinshaw

I’m currently a freshman from Des Moines, Iowa here at the University of Michigan. I plan on majoring in either Neuroscience or Cellular and Molecular Biology.  As of now, I am unsure about my future plans, but I am hoping that engaging in research will allow me to decide if I would like to continue it as a career.This summer, I will be working in the Miller Lab under the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. The research focuses on a protein called small Rho GTPase that helps form a contractile ring during cytokinesis. The lab investigates mechanisms that affect the Rho formation and how problems during cell division lead to tumor and cancer formation. I will be using frog embryos as models and confocal imaging to view the embryos.I am grateful for this opportunity to engage in full-time research. Through this great opportunity, I will be able to learn what full-time research is really like and see if it is a future career path for me. Without this scholarship, I would not have the opportunity to stay here in Ann Arbor.

Christina Pu

This summer, I worked with Dr. John Wolfe on the synthesis of tropanes, which are a class of organic compounds with biological activity. This biological activity is what makes tropanes important and interesting to organic chemists: tropanes have been used in antitumor, glucose disposal, and anticonvulsant drugs and have the potential to be used in many more. My project was based on the work of Danielle Schultz, a former graduate student in Dr. Wolfe's lab. She published an article about the tropanes that she made using starting materials containing aldehydes, and the goal of my project was to expand on the database of tropanes that are available to be used in pharmaceuticals. Another goal was to optimize reaction conditions to best suit the compounds I was using in order to produce the highest yield of product possible.

In general, my research process consisted of measuring out starting materials, combining them in a flask, and stirring them for several hours until the reaction was complete. Next, I purified the product using column chromatography, and analyzed the purity of the product using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). NMR allowed me to see which chemical I was getting by showing peaks at different places on a grid for each chemical. Finally, I weighed the pure product that I had obtained and calculated the percent yield. For me, I was able to make tropanes from both compounds that I started with, although the yields were relatively low, at seventeen to thirty percent. Therefore, one of my future steps is to continue optimization of reaction conditions. I also plan on starting the synthesis of more tropanes, with different starting materials, once I return to the Wolfe lab in the fall.

Doing research this summer was a great experience, and I felt much more connected to my project and the lab than during the school year, because in the summer I could just focus on research and not have to worry about classes and other activities. I became much more independent and did not have to ask my graduate student for help around the lab all the time. I was also able to analyze my own data and give my own input about why an experiment worked or did not work. I could not have asked for a better way to spend the summer after my freshman year, and I am very grateful to the Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program for giving me this opportunity.

Emily Lancaster

My name is Emily Lancaster and I’m from Petoskey, Michigan. I am a biology major and currently involved in a biopsychology lab here at U of M. The project I am a part of involves Parkinson’s disease, something very personal to me as my grandfather suffered from the disease, using genetically modified rats and their dopamine receptors to discover more about the disease and potential cures. Thanks to the Elaine R. Feldman Summer Research Fellowship scholarship I was able to continue to be a part of this research project in summer 2013. I would not have been able to afford to stay in Ann Arbor and continue my research involvement without the help of this scholarship. I was able to start training my own rats which were born in lab in April and continue to be involved with the rats we trained over the winter. I was able to watch surgeries on the rats to implant guide channels into the rats’ brains so we could insert electrodes later and register dopamine release during experiments. I also was able to help make the electrodes and the optic fibers that were used to direct a laser into the rats’ brain to stimulate dopamine release during the experiments. I learned a great deal during my research involvement and look forward to continuing to be a part of this research lab in the fall.