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.
2022 Summer Scholars
Minor: Asian Languages and Studies
Rachel is pursuing research in the Department of Chemistry under the leadership of Dr. TheodoreGoodson III and the mentorship of Ph.D. candidate Lloyd Fisher. Her research involves the studying ofastrocytes, non-neuronal cells that play a crucial role for regulation of the Central Nervous System. They are very sensitive to changes in their environment, responding through ion and water fluxes across the cell membrane. Rachel’s project is focused on the calcium ion release from astrocytes through the stimulation of a nanosecond laser, observed through the use of a fluorescent dye, Fluo-4, that binds to the calcium ion within the cell. Different wavelengths and powers will be used to observe their effects and study any correlation between them and the ion fluxes. In addition to the laser’s effects on the astrocytes, Rachel’s project also is focused on the specific fluorescent dye being utilized to visualize the calcium ions to best understand its effects on the cell and how its properties affect the results observed. This includes collecting emission, absorption, excitation spectra, and more.
Biochemistry and Spanish
Dre’s summer research is in the Internal Medicine department under the leadership of Scott Soleimanpour. This lab focuses on the role of the mitochondrial life cycle in diabetes and beta cell biology, the genetic causes of pancreatic beta cell failure, and the molecular function of Clec16a, the diabetes susceptibility gene, with the overarching goal of understanding how these factors can lead to diabetes pathogenesis. Over the summer, Dre will focus primarily on understanding how mitochondrial health is important in islet health, specifically in insulin-producing beta cells. She will use cellular and molecular analyses to understand mechanisms that are critical for the function of mitochondria in the islets. In the lab, she will study genetically modified mice and mouse models using tissue histology by advanced microscopy.
Minors: Gender & Health, Spanish
Allyson is conducting research this summer in the Department of Pharmacology’s Anand Lab under Dr. Jessica Anand. The Anand lab studies the pharmacology of opioid drugs, and Allyson’s summer project focuses on opioid receptors. Her work involves running competitive binding assays to compare how different drugs bind to these various receptors. The data she collects can eventually be used to develop treatment for opioid abuse, as well as to develop safer alternatives to these drugs.
Major: Biology Health and Society
Taylor is conducting research this summer in the Orthopedic Rehabilitation & Biomechanics Lab in the School of Kinesiology, under the guidance of Dr. Riann Palmieri-Smith and post-doctoral fellow Dr. Alexa Johnson. This summer, she will be researching health disparities within orthopedics and sports medicine, focusing on how social determinants of health can affect patients with an ACL injury. Previous literature has compared social determinants of health- such as insurance, employment, education level, race, ethnicity, income, and socioeconomic status- against a multitude of outcomes, like time to treatment and post-operative complications. Varying determinants correlate to longer delays to surgery and fewer postoperative physical therapy visits. Additionally, these patients have higher likelihood of sustaining concomitant injuries that may be irreparable due to the delayed access to orthopedic treatment. However, most published articles revolve around different injuries, such as meniscal tears, shoulder disorders, and rotator cuff tears. The purpose of Taylor’s research project is to investigate the impact of social determinants of health specifically for ACL injury and post-ACL reconstruction (ACLR) recovery process..
Major: Electrical Engineering
Aida is conducting research for Professor Forrest’s Optoelectronic Components and Materials Group under graduate student Xinjing Huang. The project centers on organic photovoltaic cells or OPVs, specifically their fabrication and degradation. OPVs have potential to become a promising renewable energy technology due to their low cost and semi-transparency, making them viable for use on windows. Over the summer, several ternary OPVs will be fabricated and encapsulated. After characterization of initial performances, the OPV devices will be placed under high intensity illumination for accelerated aging to study their degradation.
Major: Environmental Science
Minor: Chemistry and Sustainability
Grace is working this summer with PhD candidate Aarti Mathur at the Linic Lab through the department of Chemical Engineering, and will be evaluating numerous catalyticmaterials and testing parameters (deposition time, solution concentration, and deposition potential) with the intent of maximizing nanoparticle stability in solar water splitting applications. Results from this project will help create more efficient and affordable mean sof producing and storing hydrogen fuel, alleviate effects of climate change, and increase national energy security.
Photovoltaic cells, commonly found in solar panels, use solar energy to photocatalytically decompose water into hydrogen fuel andoxygen, as well as store energy that can be used in fuel cells to provide grid-scale power without releasing pollutants. However, there arecurrently no commercially practicable methods of doing so due to low efficiencies and poor stability.
Major: Computer Science Engineering
Political Science - Minor
Morgan VanderLeest is a rising third year student studying Computer Science at the College of Engineering with a minor in Political Science. During their time with WISE RP, they have been a first-year mentee and a second-year peer mentor. This summer they are interning at the Institute of World Politics (IWP), where they will be assisting IWP faculty in projects pertaining to cybersecurity and cyber intelligence.
Major: Biology, Health, & Society
Jennifer is conducting research in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology under the guidance of Dr. Amy Chang, here at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on understanding the response of cells when exposed to stress. This lab especially utilizes and cultivates yeast cells such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae to examine the adaptive response to certain stressors such as protein misfolding in the endoplasmic reticulum, leading to the mitochondria undergo a remodeling process. Through examination of the organellar functions of yeast and other cellular organisms, they are able to observe the protein assembling,mitochondrial remodeling, modulating mitochondrial activity, and its critical transcriptional and translational necessary to remodel mitochondrial components. Understanding these cellular processes is vital to understanding human health, as a wide range of diseases are associated with endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial dysfunction.
This summer Jennifer will be working with Dr. Amy Chang to gain experience in cultivating yeast, making media pour plates, constructing solutions, lysing yeast, and analyzing yeast proteins by Western blot.
2021 Summer Scholars
Major: Materials Science and Engineering
Leadership Role: Peer Mentor
Denise’s summer research through the Shtein Lab focuses on drug delivery and drug solubility. The project aims to improve drug solubility in biological systems by building medicinalmolecules at the micro and nano level, thus maximizing the surface area to volume ratio. Themedicine is deposited onto various surfaces (glass, polymer) via organic vapor jet printing,creating a thin film of crystalline medicine less than a micrometer thick. This summer, Denise isstudying the dissolution behavior of small medicinal compounds printed on a biodegradable, nontoxic film made from pullulan. She will use analysis techniques to determine thethermophysical and dissolution characterization of small medicinal molecules in order todetermine the proper conditions for the printing process and comparison to the original powderform of the medicine.
Major: Chemical Engineering
Jenny is conducting research this summer at the Kamcev Lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering, under the guidance of Dr. Jovan Kamcev and Ph.D. candidate José Díaz. Her research project focuses on proton and metal ion transport in highly charged, low-swelling polymer membranes. Understanding membrane properties such as ion transport and selectivity is essential in the advancement of water treatment and energy generation or storage technology for sustainable applications. Jenny will be specifically focusing on proton (H+) transport these membranes, as it has been found that proton mobility in the membrane outperforms that of other ions, but this phenomenon has not been exploited yet. This summer, she will be working with José Díaz to synthesize various charged membranes and characterize their equilibrium, transport, and selectivity properties using electrochemical methods.
Prior work has shown that patients with autoimmune conditions face many challenges when dealing with the acute effects of a COVID-19 diagnosis, and in living in a pandemic environment (even when they do not themselves have COVID-19). However, little work has been done to evaluate the long-term effects of COVID-19 in this population, including both “long-COVID” symptoms as have been described in other populations, and specific long-term effects on such patients’ autoimmune disease, their health in general, and their interactions with their medical providers. A cohort of UM Rheumatology patients who previously contracted COVID-19 has been developed. Julia will review electronic medical records of patients in this cohort and perform qualitative analysis to help understand a) the circumstances of each patient’s COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, b) how their health has changed due to COVID, c) the relationship between their COVID-19 diagnosis, their overall health, and their autoimmune diagnosis and treatment.
Leadership Roles: Recruitment Team, Summer Assistant, Peer Mentor, Programming Board
Anya is pursuing summer research in the department of Medicinal Chemistry under the leadership of Dr. George Garcia and graduate student Garrett Dow. One ofthe main interests of the Garcia Lab is the discovery of potential antibiotics to combat Shigellaflexneri: a pathogen that infects the gastrointestinal tract, and affects about 165 million peoplearound the world each year. Infection by Shigella can be lethal if it is not treated, which makesthe disease a growing concern as antibiotic resistance in Shigella flexneri continues to rise. Anya’s project involves the protein VirF—a promising target for novel antibiotics due to its keyrole as a transcriptional activator of the genes that cause virulence in Shigella. Using molecularbiology techniques, she will be investigating the mechanism by which VirF dimerizes, whichwill provide a better understanding of how the protein activates transcription of virulence genes in Shigella.
2020 Summer Research Scholars
Project Description: Andra’s summer research is in the pharmacology department in Dr. John Traynor’s lab. One of her lab’s main research focus is the discovery of addiction treatment drugs. In collaboration with post-doctoral researcher Keith Olson, Andra’s summer project specifically looks at treatment for opioid addiction. Opioids are a class of drugs that are commonly used as painkillers but are highly addictive and often abused. While some opioids, such as heroin, are harmful and addictive to the human body, some opioids are not and can be used as a treatment for opioid addiction. One of the current drugs used for opioid addiction treatment is called buprenorphine; Andra is specifically working on modifying buprenorphine in a way that increases its likelihood to attach to the opioid receptor, making it more effective for treatment.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Project Description: Nina is pursuing summer research in the Daly Design and Engineering Education Research Group alongside Associate Professor Dr. Shanna Daly and Laura Murphy, a graduate student at the lab. Nina’s summer research focuses on research in human-centered design. Nina’s project is an exploratory study that will investigate how designers and engineers perceive their users in the design process and how sketches with people impact the ideas generated. Nina’s role in this project is to work alongside Laura Murphy to create a codebook for the data analysis which will include patterns found within the data to make further research conclusions to inform the study.
Major: Public Health
Project Description: Alison’s summer research involves infectious diseases and determining how they are spread in different hospital and community settings. Alison is an undergraduate member of The Snitkin Lab, which focuses on the way various multi-drug resistant microorganisms spread from person to person. Alison’s specific project focuses on Clostridium difficile (C. diff), an infectious bacteria associated with hospital admission, and tracking its spread in children. Under the leadership of mentor Arianna Miles-Jay, Alison is responsible for analyzing samples of C. diff collected from patients and looking for patterns in disease transmission.
Project Description: Jennifer’s summer research is through the Cai Laboratory at Michigan Medicine where she explores the intersection of computer science and neuroscience under the advisement of Dr. Dawen Cai and Ph.D. candidate, Logan Walker. The lab’s research project aims to understand the structure of neurons in a mouse’s brain. Neurons are the fundamental components that communicate between and within different regions of the brain; however, there are many unknowns due to their sheer density and the complex nature of their interactions with one another. This summer, Jennifer is assisting with the creation and testing of computer programs that aid in gathering measurements to quantify features of neurons’ shapes. In future and ongoing brain mapping studies, these metrics could lead to learning more about the roles of individual neural circuits and how they impact brain functionality.
2019 Summer Research Scholars
Project Description: I am continuing my UROP project studying monarch butterflies. Specifically we are studying the genetic basis for migration in monarch butterflies because in monarch butterflies migration is not a learned behavior. We are looking at the correlation between diapause (reproductive pause) and directionality in a fall migrant monarch with the possibility that a single pathway controls both traits. This research helps with the understanding of the evolution of migration as very little is known about it as it is a very complex phenotype to develop evolutionarily. A side project will to be to develop a long range tracker to put on monarch butterflies for future experiments. This project will involve collaboration with engineering departments to develop a tracker that is able to transmit a large enough signal to track but is also small enough to fit on a monarch butterfly.
Summer Goals: I hope to explore what life as a full time researcher entails to help decide whether it is something I want to pursue in the future. I also hope to explore my scientific interests while helping make progress on the project. I'd also like to learn new scientific techniques and data analysis. Lastly, I'd like to start to get an answer to the question posed in my project as I am very excited to see what results because the topic is very interesting to me.
Project Description: Electroorganic chemistry describes an alternative to traditional synthetic methods that uses electric currents instead of toxic and costly chemical reagents to accomplish small molecular transformations. This process is a possible greener alternative for alcohol oxidation. The use of TEMPO (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidinyl-N-oxyl), will act as an electrocatalyst for alcohol oxidation. Using the copper catalyst azide-alkyne cycloaddtion (CuAAC) or “click” chemistry we are able to covalently attach TEMPO to glassy carbon electrodes (GCE). These electrodes can then be used to electrochemically convert alcohols to aldehydes and nitriles.
Summer Goals: The initial goal of this project is to develop an efficient way to convert alcohols to aldehydes using TEMPO modified GCEs. Then we will focus our efforts on the nitrilation of benzaldehyde using the same electrodes. We will then investigate combining the two transformations in a single reaction vessel. Ultimately, we intend to use glassy carbon electrodes (GCE) covalently modified with TEMPO to convert alcohols and aldehydes to nitriles in a simple, green, one-pot procedure.
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Project Description: Many of the leading causes of blindness, such as diabetic retinopathy, cause vision loss due to the formation of new blood vessels. Early detection of diseases in the eye is a pivotal step for doctors as they try to determine specific treatment for a specific patient’s needs. The development of novel imaging system has enabled complex imaging to analyze various areas of the eye in depth, such as different blood vessels and layers of the eye. With the use of imaging systems such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Photoacoustic Microscopy (PAM), these systems have allowed researchers to study larger animals, such as rabbits, and gain groundbreaking images from these systems. This is imperative because the larger the eye is, the more that results can resemble that of a human eye. The purpose of this study is to use noninvasive methods (OCT and PAM) to analyze retinal vessels in the eye, and these images can be used to see cellular markers for onsite of an eye disease.
Summer Goals: Using this technique, we can find that our multimodal imaging system can visualize both anatomy including the retinal layers along with early detection of neovascularization through PAM. These results suggest that this real-time multimodal molecular imaging has significant potential to improve the care of patients with eye diseases, which is in line with our goals.
2018 Summer Research Scholars
Project Description: The goal of our research project is to investigate mechanisms of obesity-induced immune system activation and myelopoiesis in children and adolescents. Our study hopes to gain a better understanding of the specific inflammatory procresses that occur in overweight and obese children with type one and type two diabetes.
Summer Goals: I hope to gain some more knowledge in a lab setting. I have obtained all of my lab techniques from classes, so I am excited to gain new outside knowledge. In addition, I would like to gain more experience in a clinical setting before I attend medical school in the future. Finally, I hope that the results of our research project contributes to the prevention and treatment of diabetes and obesity.
Major: Environmental Engineering
Project Description: My research project centers on antibiotic resistance in wastewater treatment. Currently, there is some concern in environmental engineering circles that the way that we treat wastewater is promoting the genesis of antibiotic resistant microorganisms. However, the scientific research available on this effect is limited. My research project aims to quantify the amount of antibiotic resistance found in wastewater at different steps of treatment, as well as possibly track and analyze specific stretches of DNA associated with antibiotic resistance through the water sanitation process.
Summer Goals: My goals for my research experience are essentially to learn as much as I can and to be as helpful as possible in furthering the project that I'll be working on. I want to expand and improve my knowledge of microbiology and lab techniques. I also want to use this opportunity to better understand what a life in environmental engineering research would look like for me, to determine if I want to pursue a career in research.
Major: Public Health Sciences
Project Description: I will be joining the Bay Area Women's Center team as a Prevention Education Intern. My primary responsibilities will include becoming trained to answer phone calls from a crisis line, researching methods of intervention and prevention of violence and abuse, creating educational presentations on sexual safety and healthy relationships, and scheduling meetings to present my findings to the community. In the past, these presentations have been tailored and given to a plethora of different organizations and people in Bay County, ranging from interpersonal violence solutions for local businesses, to healthy relationships for middle school students. Specialty trainings, such as “Cut it Out,” have been given to employees and professionals working at salons, enabling them to recognize the warning signs of domestic and sexual abuse and refer their clients to safe resources. Furthermore, “Happy Bear” is a program for children from the ages of 4 to 7 that teaches kids the difference between good and bad touches, empowering them to learn and communicate about their boundaries. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work for, help, and educate the people in my hometown, leading to a safer and more knowledgeable community.
Summer Goals: There are many different paths that can be taken in the field of public health. One of the goals I have for my internship is to decide if I would like to continue doing community education and prevention in my future career. Another goal I have is to educate and help the women and children in my community as much as I can.
Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Project Description: My research this summer will allow me to expand upon my UROP experience. I will be looking at the effects that sepsis has on the immune systems of mice by doing hands on experiments.
Summer Goals: I hope to gain a more complete understanding on the field of research while learning how to follow new procedures and use advanced equipment.
Major: Cellular and Molecular Biology
Project Description: The purpose of this research project is to investigate the gene expression of certain fruit fly neurons that affect the development of areas of the brain that signal mating and courtship. The project focuses on various enhancers, sections of DNA that increase the probability of a gene being expressed. In this case, I will be focusing on a gene called fruitless that aids in the mating process of fruit flies. The project first involves having two genetically different fruit flies mate. This will be done with many genetic variants. Their progeny’s brains are then dissected and immunostained. Immunostaining uses different antibodies to bind and stain to certain proteins in the brain, resulting in these sections fluorescing a specific color. The brains are analyzed with a confocal microscope that detects this fluorescence to create a series of images that show the brain’s layers. The presence of certain colors demonstrates where specific genes are being expressed within the brain and potentially their function.
Summer Goals: My main goal for this experience is to gain a better understanding of what a research position entails and how research is conducted. I see this summer project as an opportunity to not only gain experience, but also a chance to determine if this is a career path that I would enjoy pursuing. I hope to learn new lab techniques this summer to form a foundation of skills that will be applicable to further research endeavors. I also hope to learn different ways to problem solve and brainstorm new ideas, as much of research is being able to try different methods and make necessary alterations as needed. As I do not know much about neurobiology, another goal of mine is to increase my knowledge and expertise on the subject. In regards to the project itself, my goal is to analyze thirty different fly crosses and determine if their gene expression is driving certain developmental aspects of the brain.
Project Description: The Keane Lab investigates the structure of noncoding RNAs in order to help us further understand the functions that they play in biology. I am joining a new project that focuses on the characterization of pre-micro RNA structure by untiling physical techniques such as NMR spectroscopy.
Summer Goals: Through this experience, I hope to develop my interest in research and my engagement in the scientific community. With this opportunity I am able to explore an exciting and interdisciplinary area of research. I look forward to understanding the investigative processes of research as well as develop essential technical laboratory skill.
Major: Aerospacing Engineering
Project Description: I will be working on outreach throughout the summer, as well as one of the following: programming robots to mimic landing on an asteroid, or adding temperature sensors to include heat considerations in the control of a gyroscopically controlled cart. However, the research lab I am a part of also gives me the opportunity to explore other projects that include graduate student research on the effectiveness of batteries in the aviation industry (and the improving of them) and tinkering with kids toys so that your mind can control what happens when you tell it to levitate an object, among other exciting projects.
Summer Goals: It was January when I realized many people around me had started finalizing their summer plans. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where to start until I saw the research award application from WISE. I had no experience with what research in the real world was–my main source of research “knowledge” coming from movies and on-occasion articles I’d read–but I knew I wanted to find out. I intend this research experience to be enveloped by a sea of growth: I want to discover what research means to me, what I value in the work I aspire to pursue, and how I manage my independence in the bounds set by my research and the summer scene of Ann Arbor. I also anticipate the Harry Potter-themed outreach I will be a part of as I will get more experience in the planning and importance of such events, and the valuable practice of working alongside professors and my professional peers.
2017 Summer Research Scholars
Elaine R. Feldman Scholar
Major: Neuroscience & Gender and Health, Class of 2020
This summer I volunteered in Dr. Sari van Anders’ social neuroendocrinology research lab. The lab’s research focuses on examining hormones and intimacy in social contexts, particularly concerning pair bonds in connection with the social modulation of testosterone.The main study that was running was for a senior student’s honors thesis. It was a series of interviews about how individuals may use a new diagram for depicting their sexualities and gender identities. I helped transcribe the interviews for that project, which was an extremely rewarding task because I learned a valuable qualitative research skill as well as listened to people’s life stories. It amazed me that participants were able to trust the researchers enough to share such personal experiences.With this study, I was involved with putting up posters to recruit for the study, setting up the testing environment, running participants through the study, and processing the hormone samples that the participants provided. It was an incredible experience to be able to help with so much of a research study, as I learned a lot about research practices, ethics, and problem solving when events didn’t go according to plan.Thanks to my experiences in the van Anders lab this summer, I’ve decided to pursue a senior honors thesis of my own when I am entering my senior year. I believe that the resources I have used during my research experience will not only benefit my research in the future, but will also benefit me during the rest of my time here at Michigan.
Anna Li Aguirre
Anna Li Aguirre
Elaine R. Feldman Scholar
Major: Chemistry, Class of 2019
I have dreamt of being a scientist for longer than I can remember. From getting science kits every holiday and going to science camps whenever I get the chance, I can't get enough of it.When I declared chemistry major, I knew I wanted to be in a chemistry lab. This year, I joined an inorganic, organometallic chemistry lab where I design catalysts to functionalize different bonds that weren’t accessible beforehand. Being in charge of my own project, with guidance, of course, has been probably one of the mostfulfilling things I have done so far. It has been very stressful but also extremely rewarding.The Elaine R. Feldman Scholarship let me continue my research over the summer. This summer, not only have I been able to do and find what I really love, but I also got to learn a ton about grad school. I always had assumed I’d be getting my PhD, but now I know that it is really what I want to do. I've learned how to be a better individual. Research has taught me to be more focused and to not be afraid to ask questions. Research is my solace and my happy place where I know I can succeed.
WISE RP Alumni Scholar
Major: Environmental Engineering, Class of 2019
I am very excited that I was able to stay over the summer, continue my research and build stronger connections. I would not have been able to afford living in Ann Arbor on my own, so I am extremely thankful!The research that I have been doing is for sustainable shrimp cultivation. Currently, shrimp farms release large amounts of ammonia which cause algal blooms. Our shrimp are in a recirculating tank, which reuses the same water. In order for the shrimp to survive (as they cannot live in large amounts of ammonia), the water goes through a bio-filter. In the future, I am hoping to take a closer look at the shrimp themselves and see what we can do to make cultivating them more efficient.Not only have I learned what goes into a research project, but I have also been introduced to many people in my area of interest. I am getting a major in environmental engineering and a minor in earth science, so this is a perfect fit for me.