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Summer Scholars

WISE RP Summer Scholarships

The WISE RP offers donor supported scholarships annually to WISE RP students seeking to participate in research or internships for the Spring/Summer terms from any college. These scholarships are funded by generous financial support of champions of the WISE RP. These champions are external donors, alumni, and friends of the WISE RP. Recipients have a research/internship commitment of at least 20 hours per week for 10 weeks. The scholarship offers financial support for students to work and live in Ann Arbor over the summer. 

Summer Scholars 2023

Nandini Arya

College of LSA

Majors: Biochemistry, Biophysics, Chemical Science, and Women’s and Gender Studies

Nandini’s summer research is in the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences under the guidance of Dr. Pam Wong. Her research involves studying nanoparticle-based vaccine adjuvants to enhance the protective effect of vaccines towards viral pathogens. Specifically, she will be working with a nanoemulsion vaccine adjuvant that can work in conjunction with protein-based or mRNA-based antigens for more effective delivery of SARS-CoV2 vaccines to stimulate more effective immune responses. The goal of her research is to promote broad, durable, and potent immunity in both young and elderly populations. Over the summer, she will be studying mRNA antigen constructs and their formulation with the lab’s nanoemulsion adjuvant. She will be looking at the in vitro behavior of transfecting mRNA and how the nanoemulsion adjuvant can impact it, and ideally expanding this to in vivo studies as well. She will be analyzing the induced immune responses by performing ELISAs, microneutralization assays, and T cell assays among other techniques, with samples collected from mouse models.

Keira Bunce

College of LSA

Major: Biology

Keira will research under the Weisman lab and work closely with Ph.D. candidate Lily Hahn to investigate the regulation of motor protein attachment to cargo. Motor proteins are like tiny machines that transport organelles, proteins, and other “cargo” within a cell. To maintain a healthy cell, it is imperative that the motor proteins attach to the correct cargo and then deliver it to its precise destination at the right time. However, it is unknown exactly how the motor proteins are regulated to perform these processes. Keira’s project will explore this question by concentrating on the transport of vacuoles (the cargo) during yeast cell division. When yeast cells divide, vacuoles (a cell organelle) are moved from the “mother” to the “daughter” cell by motor proteins. The health of the daughter cell is dependent on the completion of this process. Within this project, Keira will make mutations on the motor protein, investigate how the mutations affect live yeast cells, and study the cells under a microscope. From these procedures, she can then quantify the degree that the mutated motor proteins affect the completion of vacuole transport in yeast cells. 

Annika Fuhrer

College of Engineering

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Annika is a mechanical engineering intern at the Space Physics Research Lab (SPRL) at the University of Michigan. They are working closely with senior mechanical engineers on various projects including vibration and shock testing. SPRL owns multiple thermal and vacuum chambers as well as vibration tables to perform various tests on space and research equipment. This allows components such as satellites and electronics to be verified for the conditions experienced during launch or orbit. This summer Annika will be researching shock testing and the equipment required to meet various aerospace and defense shock testing standards. They will also evaluate the options for SPRL to implement shock testing in its lab, either purchasing equipment directly or designing and building its own shock testing

Angelina Hamblin

LSA - School of Kinesiology

Major: Movement Science

Angelina is conducting research this summer in Dr. Mark Russell’s Lab through the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (F-CVC SURF). Angelina’s work in Dr. Russell’s laboratory will involve studying mechanisms of cardiac myofibril assembly, alignment and structural support, topics central to the pathophysiology of, and development of new therapies for, heart failure, cardiomyopathy and muscular dystrophy. Angelina will also be focusing on the development of novel zebrafish models of cardiomyopathy and the evaluation of flow-mediated growth signals in the fetal heart as part of her summer research. Dr. Russell’s laboratory has demonstrated that obscurin signals the cell to initiate the myogenic program in response to extracellular signals. As the cell begins to differentiate, obscurin scaffolds the assembly of new myofibrils and for the structural integrity of existing myofibrils.


Jessica Kaczor

College of LSA

Major: Biochemistry and Materials Science & Engineering

Jessica is conducting research this summer under the supervision of Dr. Kemao Xiu in the Peter Ma Lab. This research primarily focuses on the creation and modification of an ideal cationic polymeric gene vector. The applications of this vector have shown good transfection ability in vitro, ease of chemical modification, and possibility of commercial manufacture, which prove to be useful in gene therapy. In the current field, there is not a single polymeric gene vector that is able to assist in the transfer of genes into cells effectively. This project aims to improve the transfection ability and decrease the cytotoxicity of the vector. Eventually, the applications of the properly modified polymer could be a promising candidate for gene therapy applications. 

Grace Lombardo

College of LSA

Major: Biochemistry

Grace is conducting research in the Lukacs Laboratory in the Department of Pathology of Michigan Medicine under the leadership of Dr. Nicholas W. Lukacs and the mentorship of Research Assistant Professor Dr. Wendy Fonseca Aguilar. The lab focuses on the immunologic mechanisms involved in the development of asthma and respiratory virus infections. Grace’s previous project with Dr. Fonseca focused on the role of macrophages in the connection between early-life respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and asthma development later in life. Based on the cytokine profiles of bone marrow derived macrophages, it was suggested that macrophages polarize to the M2 phenotype following early-life RSV infection which has been associated with asthma development in previous literature. This summer, Grace will use molecular biology techniques to generate data from Dr. Fonseca’s current experiments in order to provide insights into the immunological mechanisms involved in asthma development.

Natasha Mehta

College of  Engineering

Major: Chemical Engineering

Minors: Biochemistry and Multidisciplinary Design

Natasha is a rising junior conducting research at the Kotov Lab in the department of Chemical Engineering under the guidance of PhD candidate Kody Whisnant. Her research mainly focuses on hedgehog particles (HPs), micron-scale spherical particles with metal oxide spikes. Due to their structure, HPs do not follow the typical pattern of solubility and can therefore be applied to processes involving harmful chemicals, originally required to dissolve a substance of interest.
Natasha’s projects center around the application of graph theory, in conjunction with the StructuralGT python package, to HPs. Building off of the original code, Natasha is working to aid in the development of computer-based analysis of hedgehog particles in order to better understand their structure as a network.

Grace Thompson

College of LSA

Majors: PitE & Earth and Environmental Sciences

Grace is a rising junior in the College of LSA double majoring in Program in the Environment & Earth and Environmental Sciences, focusing her studies on aquatic chemistry and water quality science. She was a peer mentor in WISE RP this past school year and this will be her second summer participating in the Summer Scholars Program! They will be working under the supervision of Austin Crane and Dr. Allen Burton in the Burton Ecotoxicology Lab through the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School for Environment and Sustainability. The primary objectives of the lab’s research is to better characterize which stressors are ecologically significant, understand their impacts on different aquatic organisms, and improve information accuracy for environmental management and restoration efforts. She will be working on a proof-of-concept project for the in situ Toxicity Identification Evaluation (iTIE) Technology. This is a biological-chemical fractionation system that identifies causes of toxicity by separating chemical classes of compounds frequently linked to adverse biological effects (i.e. organics, metals, ammonia). This environmentally realistic assessment improves traditional lab methods, allowing for more cost-effective monitoring and remediation decisions.

Jennifer Wang

College of Engineering

Majors: Electrical Engineering

Minor: Economics

Jennifer is conducting research in Dr. Joseph Potkay’s lab in the Department of Surgery under PhD candidate Andrew Zhang. The project focuses on the development of human-scale microfluidic artificial lungs, which oxygenate and remove carbon dioxide from blood while overcoming biocompatibility issues faced by current artificial lungs. The microfluidic artificial lungs consist of alternating layers of polydimethylsiloxane with blood and gas channels engraved by a CO2 laser engraver. The goal of this research is to create a device to support patients waiting for a lung transplant or recovering from chronic lung disease. This summer, Jennifer will design, manufacture, and integrate electronics for the roll-to-roll manufacturing system.

Sabrina Wong

College of Engineering

Major: Chemical Engineering

Sabrina is conducting research this summer with the Li+ Research Group in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering under the guidance of Dr. Yiyang Li. Her research is on lithium-ion batteries, which are a promising energy storage technology due to their high energy density. Conventional commercial lithium-ion battery cathodes are composed of polycrystalline LiMeO2 battery particles, where Me is a combination of Ni, Mn, and Co. These cathodes are referred to as NMC. The specific focus of her research project this summer is single-crystal NMC, which is a potential alternative battery material to polycrystalline NMC. The aim of her research this summer is to refine a process for synthesizing single-crystal NMC battery particles that meet certain specifications in terms of their chemical composition, morphology, and size. Once this goal is achieved, she will then manufacture coin cells out of the synthesized battery particles in order to study their electrochemical performance.
s. It is important to establish a process for consistently producing single-crystal NMC that meet certain specifications as they are not as readily available for purchase as polycrystalline NMC is. The synthesized single-crystal NMC can be used in future research in more precise fundamental studies as well as for comparison with their polycrystalline counterpart to better understand the mechanisms behind both types of battery particles.

Summer Scholars 2022

2021 Summer Scholars

2020 Summer Research Scholars

2019 Summer Research Scholars

2018 Summer Research Scholars

2017 Summer Research Scholars