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Feldman Summer Research Scholars

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 in order to so.  Students offer their reactions to the experience during and after their respective summers of research:

Tang, ChristinaMy 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.

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. 

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. 

I am currently a sophomore in the college of Literature, Science and the Arts, studying Cellular and Molecular Biology. I’m from Canton, Michigan, which is about 20 minutes outside of Ann Arbor.

This year, I became involved in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, and began working in a lab with Jennifer Dalton, an MD in the Neonatal-Perinatal division at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital here in Ann Arbor. Jennifer is working on a project involving epigenetic regulation of Thelper-1 and Thelper-2 cytokine generation in premature infants at risk for Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, and their susceptibility to viral infections prior to one year of age. Epigenetics, which studies the interplay of genetic and environmental factors and how they modify the DNA, is crucial in the process of making an individual more or less susceptible to disease formation. Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia is an inflammatory disease, similar to asthma, which results in significant morbidity and mortality in premature infants. Umbilical cord blood samples are being obtained from premature infants at the Brandon NICU in the C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital. By testing these samples, we are hoping to find a link between specific cytokines and an indication for predisposition of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia.

When I began working with Jennifer back in September, I had no lab experience. She has spent the year teaching me not only about the goal of the project, but how a lab runs on a day to day basis as well as of the procedures that are necessary for the types of genetic testing that she is doing. Currently, I am gaining more and more responsibility in the lab and being allowed to run samples on my own. Thanks to the Elaine R. Feldman Summer Research Fellowship, I will be able to continue this work throughout the summer and gain much more experience, and continue to work my way up in the lab.

I am a freshman in WISE RP from Glenview, Illinois and I am majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB). I am really interested in leadership and philanthropy. I started the U of M chapter of a national non-profit organization called Manna Project International. Our organization focuses on service in Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Guatemala. 

The focus of my research is to understand phylogenetic relationships of Peruvian and Venezuelan species of howler monkeys.  Special focus will be placed on Peruvian and Venezuelan species that have never been analyzed using genetic markers, but that have been recognized as distinct species with morphological characters. These species correspond to the A. seniculus group, initially considered a single species but currently divided into five (and potentially more) species. Two molecular markers will be used as primary tools to distinguish these putative species. Samples from museum specimens for the Peruvian taxa and fecal samples from wild individuals from Venezuela will be analyzed. The goal is to compare these sequences to those publicly available for other species of the genus. This will expand our understanding of the diversity present within the genus Alouatta, and allow us to infer phylogenetic relationships among potentially new taxa.

I am really thankful to Ms. Feldman for this opportunity to do research in the summer. Not only did I get to be deeply involved in a project in the lab but I was also able to devote a significant amount of time in the lab each week and gain a lot of experience in the lab setting. As a research assistant at Dr. Ortiz’s lab, I was able to interact with many graduate students and learn a lot about their experiences. They told me how they decided on research as a career and also informed me about cool opportunities available for undergraduate students. As an EEB major, this research experience was really great for me because I got to know and connect with the EEB community.

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. 

The secret to thrilling discoveries in research is hard work, discipline and collaboration. I was able to realize this through my summer working in Dr. Lozoff’s lab, thanks to the Elaine Feldman Summer Research Fellowship offered by the WISE RP. In the short time I worked in this lab in the Center for Growth and Human Development, I worked with two visiting professors, Dr. Armony-Sivan and Dr. Mai. Quite literally, I lived the life of a researcher. Ultimately, being exposed to ground-breaking research and leaders in the maternal-health field has made me more ambitious and inspired me to become more involved in original scientific research throughout my college career and beyond.

Dr. Lozoff’s lab is investigating the effect of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in infancy on the brain and behavior. The study is focused on the influence of prenatal and postnatal IDA on the brain and behavior. Dr. Lozoff’s research is special because it is the only longitudinal study to track a single cohort of individuals affected by IDA for 20+ years.

I believe that my summer experience has been fundamental in driving me toward a research-focused career. Since I am majoring in neuroscience and have interests in biology, my research was a great opportunity to apply my learning in the “real world”. Being exposed to leaders in the Center for Growth and Human Development was also beneficial. I learned how to work independently, network and do basic data work using data analysis software. I was also introduced to the vast possibilities for a career in scientific research. Overall, I am so grateful that the Elaine Feldman Summer Research Fellowship gave me an opportunity to live, breathe, and eventually come to love research this summer. I am eager to be continuing research in the fall through independent study.

This past summer, the WISE RP awarded me an Elaine R. Feldman Summer Research Award, which enabled me to immerse myself in research for thirty hours per week for ten weeks.  I am so grateful to Ms. Feldman for her generous support!

I came to college not knowing exactly what research entailed. I had a picture in my mind of white lab coats, test tubes, and microscopes in a secret, futuristic environment – something that normal people, especially inexperienced students, would naturally be shut away from. But coming to Michigan, I found out that I, as an undergraduate student, had the opportunity to not only participate in this research but to immerse myself in it and advance my knowledge and responsibility over time. Suddenly this previous vision I had of research started to change. Students are not merely “allowed” to participate in research – they are in fact sought after and desired. I also realized that obtaining research experience would fortify my application to medical school. So, as a student passionate about science, I decided it would be a perfect area in which to put forth my efforts. But my understanding of the research world was only beginning to take shape as I began my first position through UROP during my freshman year. Throughout my first two undergraduate years, I have greatly expanded my personal definition of the word “research.”