Author: Eskin, Jodi

• Research Opportunity – REINVENT-PT Lab

Opportunity Description

Join the REINVENT-PT lab (REhabilitation, INnoVations & Emerging Novel Technologies in Physical Therapy lab in Spring 2021! Our lab is interested in understanding developmental trajectories of individuals with developmental disabilities including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, etc., across the lifespan.

Specifically, our lab studies how infants and children with developmental disabilities explore their physical and social environment compared to typically developing infants and the cascading effects of motor difficulties on a child’s social communication and cognitive development. Our lab develops novel, movement-based interventions for school-age children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and assesses the effects of these play and creative movement-based interventions on children’s motor, social communication, behavioral, and cognitive skills. We are also interested in assessing health-related outcomes in adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities including their physical activity and physical fitness levels. Based on our understanding of the developmental trajectories of individuals with disabilities, our goal is to develop multisystem, evidence-based, behavioural interventions and assistive technologies to empower the lives of people with disabilities.

At present, the lab has 2 ongoing research projects – (1) assessing the effects of 8-week, telehealth-based creative movement interventions on social communication, motor and cognitive skills of school-age children with ASD, and (2) assessing physical activity and physical fitness levels in adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities and development of novel, engaging group-based intervention programs to improve health-related outcomes in this population

Student Qualifications
We are looking for passionate, energetic, and empathetic undergraduate students interested in working on projects involving infants, children, and adults with disabilities. Students can pursue research at the lab for credit, for work study, and with the potential of converting a subset of the research into a thesis. Students are required to commit to pursuing research in the lab for at least 2 semesters in order for the experience to be meaningful for students. Students from diverse backgrounds including but not limited to psychology, physiology and neurobiology, biology, exercise science, communication sciences, allied health, and education are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply
To apply, please contact Dr. Sudha Srinivasan at Please also feel free to email with questions!

Mentor: Sudha Srinivasan, Assistant Professor
Department: Kinesiology
Campus: Storrs

• Student Accomplishments – May 2020


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in spring 2020. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Congratulations to Christopher Choi ’20 (ENG, CLAS), Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG), and Brittany Smith ’20 (ENG), the undergraduate recipients of 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships! They are among the 12 UConn students and alumni who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships this year.

Congratulations to Michael Hernández ’22 (CLAS), UConn’s newest Newman Civic Fellow. Michael is an Honors student at the Stamford campus majoring in Political Science and Economics. Michael has been active in pursuing social change through enacting innovative public policies such as the Afford to Dream Act which gives undocumented students access to financial aid at state colleges and universities.


Berk Alpay ’21 (ENG) is the lead author on publication based on his Holster Scholar research project:

Alpay, B.A., Wanik, D., Watson, P., Cerrai, D., Liang, G., & Anagnostou, E. (2020). Dynamic Modeling of Power Outages Caused by Thunderstorms. Forecasting, 2, 151-162, doi: 10.3390/forecast2020008

Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG) is the lead author on a new publication from Dr. Kazunori Hoshino’s lab in Biomedical Engineering:

Garrett, A., Soler, G.J., Diluna, M.L, Grant, R.A., Zaveri, H.P., & Hoshino, K. (2020). A passive, biocompatible microfluidic flow sensor to assess flows in a cerebral spinal fluid shunt. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical doi: 10.1016/j.sna.2020.112110

SURF Award recipient Timothy Mason ’21 (CLAS) was a co-author on a recent publication from Dr. Barbara Mellone’s lab in Molecular and Cell Biology:

Palladino, J., Chavan, A., Sposato, A., Mason, T.D., & Mellone, B.G. (2020). Targeted de novo centromere formation in Drosophila reveals versatility and maintenance potential of CENP-A chromatin. Developmental Cell, 52, 379-394, doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.01.005


Spring 2020 included a series of scheduled art exhibitions and screenings by the following undergraduate students, some of which were canceled or delayed due to COVID-19:

Yosemite Lights Screening PosterMaggie Chafouleas ’22 (CAHNR) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Charlotte Lao ’20 (ENG) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Eric Wang ’21 (ENG) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Eric Yang ’21 (CLAS) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Yosemite Lights – A Travel Documentary

Nina Drozdenko ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
What Are You? Documenting Filipino American Diversity Through Film

Esme Roszel ’20 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
My Dear Little Mother

Brock Sanford ’21 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Working on a Dream

Hannah Smaglis ’20 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient


The COVID-19 public health situation in spring 2020 resulted in the shift to an online modality or cancellation of many scheduled professional conferences and meetings. Canceled events are denoted with an asterisk below; virtual conferences are denoted parenthetically.

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology – January 3-7, 2020 – Austin, TX

Ariana Rojas ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Evolution of Gut Pattering in Tardigrades

American Astronomical Society Annual Meeting – January 4-8, 2020 – Honolulu, HI

Joyce Caliendo ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Constraining the Gas Fraction of a Compact Quiescent Galaxy at z=1.9 with the Large Millimeter Telescope

Josh Machado ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Ammonia Measurements in W51

Tyler Metivier ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Simulating the Recovery of Merger Signatures with Illustris

International Saxophone Symposium – January 10-11, 2020 – Fairfax, VA

Ryan Adams ’22 (SFA), Noah Brisson ’20 (SFA), Sean McCormick ’20 (SFA), and Tessa Webb ’22 (SFA) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Paradigm Saxophone Quartet

Plant and Animal Genome XXVIII Conference – January 11-15, 2020 – San Diego, CA

Jeremy Bennett ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
EASEL: An Integrated and Accessible Framework for the Annotation of Eukaryotic Reference Genomes

Akriti Bhattarai ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Assembly and Annotation of the American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Genome

Ava Fritz ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating Genetic Signatures Associated with Reduced Mortality Against Emerald Ash Borer in Green Ash

Joint Mathematics Meetings – January 15-18, 2020 – Denver, CO

Daniel Meskill ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Noise-Induced Stabilization of Hamiltonian Systems

Electronic Materials and Applications 2020 – January 22-24, 2020 – Orlando, FL

Lucas Enright ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
W-Band Dielectric Property Characterization of Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia at High Temperature

Victoria Reichelderfer ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Piezoresponse Predictions in Novel Ferroelectric Nanostructures

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region 1) – January 28-February 1, 2020 – Barnstable, MA

Edmond Vitcavage ’20 (SFA, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy – February 5-7, 2020 – Blacksburg, VA

Felipe Sanches ’22 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient (unable to attend)
Profiles in Courage, “Ganas,” and Belonging at a Major University

International Conference on Writing Analytics – February 6-8, 2020 – St. Petersburg, FL

Eli Udler ’20 (ENG, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Applications of Data Science to Writing Center Research: Actionable Insights from Natural Language Data

Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting – February 27-March 1, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA

Jenifer Gaitan ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Voces: First-Generation Latinx Students Discuss Their Support Networks

*American Physical Society March Meeting – March 2-6, 2020 – Denver, CO

Cong Hu ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Modeling Hyperfine Coupling in Molecular Qubits

Northeast Modern Language Association Annual Convention – March 5-8, 2020 – Boston, MA

Owen Spangler ’23 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Positive Role of Humor in Historically Oppressed Communities

*National Conference of Black Political Scientists – March 11-14, 2020 – Atlanta, GA

Michael Christie ’23 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Fighting for the “Black Cerebral”: Black Virginians’ Struggle for Public Education, 1865-1875

Eastern Psychological Association Meeting – March 12-14, 2020 – Boston, MA (moved to virtual format June 17-18)

Julia Devincenzi ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Approach Biases in People Demonstrating Problematic Gaming Habits

Marcella Dibona ’20 (CLAS) & Emily Hotz ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
EEG Mu Rhythm Desynchronization and Language in 18- and 24-Month-Old Infants

Steven Dorzens ’20 (CLAS) OUR Travel Award recipient
Behavioral Biases in Regular Caffeine Users

Yvonne Laporte ’20 (CLAS) OUR Travel Award recipient
Attention Bias Variability: Its Stability and Prediction of GAD in a Short-Term Longitudinal Design

*American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Meeting – March 13-16, 2020 – San Antonio, TX 

Margaret Ann Lewerk ’20 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Memory Complaints and Depression Treatment in Older Adults

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting – March 14-17, 2020 – Boston, MA (moved to virtual format May 2-5, 2020)

Stephanie Chinwo ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Traveling Back in Time: How Do Temporal Terms Shape Our Expectations for The Unfolding Linguistic Input

Pavitra Rao Makarla ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Empathy Influences Behavioral Perceptions and Eye Movements in Non-Literal Language Processing

*Eastern Society for Pediatric Research Annual Meeting – March 13-15, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA

Monitha Patel ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Low Reported Cyberbullying in Patients Due to Misinterpretation of Cyberbullying

Seda Sahin ‘ 20 (CLAS) & Samantha Seibel ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
The Role of Gender in Adolescent Perceptions of Sexual Health Education

CUNY Human Sentence Processing Annual Conference – March 18-21, 2020 – Amherst, MA (moved to a virtual format March 19-21)

Lindsey Neri ’20 (CLAS) & Grace Roy ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating the Interplay between Morpho-syntax and Memory for Events: The Case of Past Participles

*American Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting – March 20-23, 2020 – National Harbor, MD 

Maria Latta ’20 (PHR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Evaluating University Support in the Sustainability of Public Health Programs: The CT WISEWOMAN Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Program

*Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting – April 1-4, 2020 – San Francisco, CA

Annika Anderson ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Perceptions and Experiences of Women Testing Positive for BRCA1/2 Genetic Mutations: A Qualitative Analysis

Maya Benson ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Executive Functioning and Foods in the Home Before and During an Online Behavioral Weight-Loss Program

Jason Chan ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
NIH Cancer Survivorship and CTBHI Genetic Grants

*Northeast Writing Center Association Conference – April 3-4, 2020 – Durham, NH

Amir Agoora ’20 (CLAS) & Erica Popoca ’22 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Grammatical and Stylistic Workshops Within the Writing Center

Jennifer Koo ’20 (CAHNR, CLAS), Rosemary O’Mahony ’22 (CLAS) & Deevena Annavarjula ’21 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Exploring the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Disability in the Writing Center: Perspectives from Students with Dyslexia

Emily O’Hara ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Writing Through Discomfort: Effective Tutoring of Complaints and Grievances

Yasmine Shwayhat ’20 (BUS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Writing Center Scheduler Research

*Experimental Biology – April 4-7, 2020 – San Diego, CA

Chang Sun ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Lack of Receptor of Advanced Glycation End Products (RAGE) Attenuates Long-Term Cigarette Smoke Exposure-Induced Vascular Dysfunction in C57BL6 Mice

*New England Science Symposium – April 5, 2020 – Boston, MA

Sarah Tsuro ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Marginalized Identities on the Clinical and Psychosocial Keloid Impact on Quality of Life

*Benthic Ecology Meeting – April 7-10, 2020 – Wilmington, NC

Annalee Mears ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Stoichiometry of Fear: Do Predators Affect the Balance of Carbon and Nitrogen in their Prey

*American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting – April 15-18, 2020 – Los Angeles, CA

Srishti Sadhir ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating the Relationship between Skin Color and Vitamin D Deficiency in Baboons (Papio)

*Northeast Natural History Conference – April 17-19, 2020 – Stamford, CT

Sarah Anderson ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Effect of Group Size on the Aggressiveness of Nasutitermes Corniger Termites

Madison Molnar ’22 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Effect of Colony Ratio on Termite Combat Behavior

*American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting – April 25-29, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA

Spencer Low ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Growth Charts for Functional Brain Networks in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Kailey Huot: The Power of Persistence

Kailey Huot ’19 (CLAS) earned her bachelor’s degree last December and reiterates the need for persistence in seeking out a research experience.

Since I was in grade school I always knew I had a special interest in the math and science fields, but it wasn’t until high school when I figured out what I really wanted to do in the future; chemistry.  My high school teacher completely sparked my interest in the concepts of chemistry, and I also had a strong interest in medicine, eventually combining both fields into a career goal of pharmaceutical sciences.

When I got to college, I was immediately enrolled into a First Year Experience course where several chemistry majors were told of different opportunities in our major, including research opportunities.  I understood that UConn had recently invested money into STEM fields the year before I came to the university, but I did not understand the level of opportunity for each student to acquire a position as an undergraduate research assistant, not knowing that UConn was a Tier 1 research-based campus.  I was instructed to look through the faculty members on the UConn Chemistry website, and started reading about different research projects and their publications.  One of the first faculty members I clicked on was a woman from the Pharmacy Building named Dr. Marcy J. Balunas.  Her research mainly focused on Natural Products in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and it immediately caught my eye.  Not only was the research under pharmaceuticals, but she was studying different marine bacteria for potential bioactivity against pathogenic compounds, combining my interests of chemistry, medicine, and sustainability into one research opportunity.

I emailed her within two weeks of the start of my freshman year, asking if there were undergraduate positions open in her lab, as well as reading her most recent publication and sparking a conversation about her work with Hawaiian bobtail squids.  To my dismay, she did not have any openings for undergraduates at the time, but told me to email her once the time to pick classes neared.  Again, she didn’t have openings for the spring semester either, but I decided to continue our communication.  I read several more of her publications, and would send her an email every few weeks with more information and questions about the research.  By the time picking classes in the spring came around, she finally brought me in for a meeting with her, and was offered a position to start at the beginning of my sophomore year.

In the lab, I had the privilege of working with both microbiology and organic chemistry instrumentation and protocols.  Strains of bacteria were first grown on an agar plate containing several nutrients to help the bacteria grow.  From there, bacteria were transferred to liquid media and the culture scale increased, allowing more area for bacteria to grow.  Once the cultures were scaled up to 500mL volumes, they were brought into the organic chemistry lab for extraction.  With a main focus on more non-polar compounds, extractions using resin beads were able to trap target, non-polar molecules, while eluting unwanted polar molecules.  The isolation process yielded a more purified version of the product, eventually preparing for tests of bioactivity and structure elucidation.  In order to analyze the bioactivity of a bacterial strain, compounds were commonly tested against bacterial and fungal compounds such as Candida or MSSA.  Upon doing so, my research found very little bioactivity in Hawaiian Bobtail Squid bacteria, despite indications of preliminary research.

Last year I made the decision to graduate a semester early, and was unable to give the same amount of time to the research lab as I had in the past, so I am no longer working in the lab.  However, the experience and confidence I gained through working as an undergraduate in research was irreplaceable, and the skills I acquired will stay with me throughout my career as a chemist.  This past summer I worked at Pfizer in Groton, CT as an organic synthetic chemist, and I owe a large portion of my success as an intern to the research opportunities that UConn has brought me.  I will be graduating in December of 2019, and I have accepted a full-time position back at Pfizer in Groton to continue the research I had worked on over the summer.  Without resources such as the OUR program at UConn, I wouldn’t be in the same position I am today, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that UConn and the Office of Undergraduate Research has brought me.

For anyone looking into a research position at UConn, my biggest piece of advice is to make yourself known to faculty members.  If you continuously show your interest and excitement about the subject, your work will pay off and research faculty will be eager to hire someone so interested in what they are doing.

• Summer Research Programs Accepting Applications for Summer 2020

Undecided about how to spend your summer? Consider an undergraduate research program or research internship hosted by a research institute or university. Many summer research programs and internships, including those listed below, are still accepting applications, some through early March. There is still time to prepare a personal statement, gather application materials, and secure letters of recommendation.

REU in Mathematics at California State University-San Bernardino 
Deadline: February 12, 2020
Students in this 8-week program execute guided independent and collaborative research in the fields of Geometry and Knot Theory. The program is designed for students majoring in mathematics. $4,000 stipend and housing costs are provided.

Bioarchaeology of Bronze Age Social Systems REU – University of South Alabama/Quinnipiac University
Deadline: February 12, 2020
This REU is jointly run by the University of South Alabama and Quinnipiac University. The research projects focus on bioarchaeological analysis of two skeletal collections from the United Arab Emirates dating to the Umm an-Nar period. $500/week stipend, housing, field trip fees and some meals covered by the REU.

Maryland Sea Grant REU Program
Deadline: February 14, 2020
Fifteen students are selected to conduct marine research on the Chesapeake Bay at one of two University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences laboratories. The program is designed for students majoring in marine science, ecology, environmental science, biology and chemistry. Preference given to students who are rising seniors. $6,000 stipend and housing costs are provided.

Molecular Biology REU – The Ohio State University
Deadline: February 15, 2020
This NSF funded research program is hosted by the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the Division of Biochemistry at Ohio State. Selected students will receive a $6,000 stipend and univeristy housing. Students from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Internship Program
Deadline: February 15, 2020
This 10-week program provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work on independent research under the direction of a SERC mentor. Research areas include environmental chemistry, marine and estuarine ecology, molecular ecology, and terrestrial ecology. Stipend $550/week.

Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program – Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
Deadline: February 15, 2020
Internship opportunities through this program focus on digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, collections information management, and recording and preserving oral histories. Interns will be located onsite with the National Museum of African American History & Culture and offsite at select African American museums, museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other institutions dedicated to preserving African American history and culture. Stipend $600/week. 

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography – University of Rhode Island
Deadline: February 21, 2020
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography program is a 10-week research experience designed for science, math, and engineering students and primarily targets students who are completing their junior year. The program emphasizes the quantitative aspects of Oceanography; many projects involve fluid dynamics, marine geophysics, or numerical/physical modeling. $6,000 stipend.

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) Undergraduate Summer Research Internship – Virginia Tech
Deadline: 5pm, February 21, 2020
This program provides undergraduates from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Wide variety of academic disciplines; $3,000 stipend, free on-campus room and board. Applicants should be rising sophomores and juniors.

American Student Placements in Rehabilitation Engineering (ASPIRE) REU Program – University of Pittsburgh
Deadline: February 28, 2020
ASPIRE is a 10-week research program that focuses on rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology. Students indicate their top three projects choices on their application. Selected students receive a $4,750 stipend and on-campus housing.

Brookings Institution Internship Program
Deadline: February 28, 2020
The Brookings Internship Program provides undergraduates the opportunity to learn new skills by working with Brookings’ staff in a variety of research areas – Economic Studies, Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development, Governance Studies and Metropolitan Policy. Three types of internships are offered – paid, academic for credit, and external sponsorship.

Nanotechnology for Health, Energy, and the Environment – Stony Brook University
Deadline: March 1, 2020
This summer REU program is targeted towards undergraduates with an interest in the application of nanotechnology and nanomaterials to various societal needs. Undergraduate STEM majors who have completed at least one year of undergraduate study are eligible to apply. $6,000 stipend, lodging and meals provided.

Dangremond Museum Studies Internship – Connecticut Historical Society
Deadline: March 6, 2020
This internship offer undergraduates the opportunity to gain exposure to and experience in the daily operation of a history museum, library, and research center. Selected interns will work closely with museum professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the museum, library and history fields. Interns must complete 250 hours of work. $1,700 stipend.

INSPIRE U2 REU Program – Spelman College
Deadline: March 15, 2020
The Increasing Statistical Preparation in Research Education for Underrepresented Undergraduates (INSPIRE U2) program is designed to expose rising sophomore female students to statistical programs and analytical techniques with the goal of increasing student interest in advanced degree programs in the quantitative fields. Select students will received a $4,000 stipend, room and board.

• Health Research Program – Opportunities for Summer 2020

HRP student Grace Nichols ’20 (CLAS) using software to measure response rates of mice with hopes of understanding Tinnitus. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the next phase of the Health Research Program (HRP). This program offers a pathway into undergraduate research for students with interests in health and/or the biomedical sciences. By facilitating connections between UConn Health researchers and UConn undergraduates, the program aims to involve more students in research at UConn Health.

For students interested in participating in this program for Summer 2020, here is the key information:

  • Summer 2020 opportunities are now posted on the HRP website. There are 30 opportunities that range from psychiatry to biological modeling, biomaterials to neuroscience, genetics to public health. The application deadline for these opportunities is 11:59pm on Monday, February 3, 2020.
  • All of these opportunities are slated to continue into the 2020-21 academic year. Continuation is contingent on satisfactory progress over the course of the summer and both student and faculty mentor interest in continuing the placement.
  • To be eligible for Summer 2020 HRP opportunities, students must plan to graduate no sooner than May 2021.
  • We do not expect that UConn shuttle service between Storrs and Farmington will be available during summer 2020 or in academic year 2020-21. Applicants should consider how they plan to travel to and from Farmington this summer and during the academic year. Further information about transportation options is available in the HRP FAQ.

Further details and answers to other frequently asked questions are available on the Health Research Program website. Students are encouraged to peruse the posted opportunities and begin preparing application materials for any placements of interest. We urge students to take care to consider the time commitment and schedule options involved in a given opportunity to ensure that they can accommodate these demands in their summer and academic year schedule. 

Research Assistant for Thermodynamic Foundations of Biological Behavior

Opportunity Description

This research project investigates bio-like properties and behaviors of non-living, self-organizing, physical systems called dissipative structures. The project aims at identifying core physical principles which underwrite biological capabilities by studying non-living bio-analogues. The primary system we study is an electrically driven dissipative structure (as an example watch the video here:

We braid together concepts from psychology, cognitive science, kinesiology, physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics for a rich interdisciplinary methodology. This project is thus well-suited for undergraduates studying either the life-sciences or the physical sciences, and ideally an interest in both. Our projects for the near future include topics of evolution, learning, and social coordination. As an undergraduate research assistant, you would aid primarily in conducting experiments, as well as potentially designing and building experimental apparatuses. Ideally you will also learn some rudimentary data analysis tools in Matlab, R, or both (programming facility in other languages is also very welcome).

You would receive training to use the experimental systems, aided by a graduate student mentor, as well as a short survey of relevant research articles for conceptual background. Once you have developed some facility with the system, you would begin to run assigned experiments and collect data on your own. You would be expected to coordinate primarily with your graduate student mentor, and secondarily with your faculty mentor. The time-commitment is flexible and negotiable, likely not exceeding 10 hours a week. The assistant position is minimally for a semester, though renewal for future semesters is possible and ideal. The assistantship would begin at the start of the Spring 2020 semester. RAs will receive research course credits as compensation for their work.

Student Qualifications
Preferred Qualifications (but not required):
– Undergraduate-level physics knowledge (especially Thermodynamics and Electricity & Magnetism)
– Experience with programming languages (ideally Matlab and/or R)
– An interest in conducting future research
Required Qualifications:
– Good, consistent, work ethic
– Genuine interest in the topic (though you don’t need specific knowledge or experience)
– Desire to learn new concepts, experimental methodologies, and analysis tools

How to Apply
Please email Ben De Bari at and include a brief description of why you’re applying for this position and an up-to-date resume. Strong applicants will go through a brief interview process with the graduate student (Ben De Bari) and faculty (James Dixon) mentors.

Mentor: James Dixon, Professor, Psychological Sciences
Mentor email:
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: Storrs

• Interested in a Summer Research Opportunity – Apply Now

Interested in spending the summer engaged in an exciting research project? With February fast approaching, now is the time to prepare your materials and request letters of recommendation in order to apply for summer research opportunities including those listed below with February deadlines.

Amgen Scholars Program 
The Amgen Scholars Program, a competitive summer program providing undergraduate students the opportunity to work full-time on independent research projects under the guidance of a research scientist, is hosted at thirteen institutions in the United States. Each host institution has its own application process; visit the links below for information on each institution’s program. The application deadline for all programs (except Caltech) is February 3, 2020. Applications for the Caltech program are due February 15th. Amgen research is conducted in fields including biochemistry, bioinformatics, biotechnology, chemical and biomolecular engineering, chemistry, immunology, medical pharmacology, microbiology, molecular biology, molecular genetics, molecular medicine, molecular pharmacology, neurobiology, neuroscience, pathology, physiological psychology, physiological science, statistics, and toxicology. Funding levels vary by program but most include a stipend (between $3,500 and $6,500), a housing and/or meal allowance, and travel expenses.

UCSD MSTP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program
Deadline: February 2, 2020
The Medical Scientist Training Program at UC San Diego is designed for students interested in learning about a career as a physician-scientist. The program features an 8-week research project, weekly seminars, and a physician-scientist clinical shadowing experience. Students from groups underrepresented in health-related sciences and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to apply. $3,200 stipend and room provided. 

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program – UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deadline: February 3, 2020
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is designed for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. career in biomedical research. Applicants to this 10-week program must have completed their sophomore year in an undergraduate science degree program. $4,000 stipend.

Quantitative and Physical Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (QP-SURF) Program – UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deadline: February 3, 2020
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is designed for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. career in biomedical research. Applicants must be enrolled in a physics, computer science, mathematics, biomedical engineering, or chemistry degree program and have completed their sophomore year. $4,000 stipend.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Summer Student Fellowship
Deadline: February 5, 2020
The Summer Student Fellowship provides undergraduates with an interest in ocean sciences, oceanographic engineering, mathematics, or marine policy with a meaningful first-hand introduction to research in those areas. Students who have completed their junior year prior to the start of fellowship period in summer 2020 are eligible to apply. Stipend of approximately $650/week for 10-12 weeks and institutional housing provided.

Hartford Hospital Summer Student Pre-Med & Research Program 
Deadline: February 7, 2020
This 10-week program offers pre-med students an introduction to research methodology, patient treatment, and ethical issues in medicine. Applicants must be pre-med students completing their junior year as of May 2020. $3,400 award for selected students.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Center REU at Northwestern University
Deadline: February 14, 2020
REU students will have the opportunity to contribute to a research project led by a center faculty member expanding their science and engineering experience. Students with an interest in nanomaterials and majoring in a science or engineering field are encouraged to apply.  Participants receive a $4,500 stipend, a travel allowance, and on-campus housing.

BIT SURE: BIoTechnology-based Sequencing-based Undergraduate Research Experience at North Carolina State University
Deadline: February 14, 2020
The BIT SURE program funds ten undergraduates to work on research projects that utilize next-generation sequencing (NGS) tools. This 10-week program includes a professional development component. $5,500 stipend and housing provided.

Maryland Sea Grant REU Program
Deadline: February 14, 2020
Fifteen students are selected to conduct marine research on the Chesapeake Bay at one of two University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences laboratories. This 12-week REU is designed for students majoring in marine science, ecology, environmental science, biology and chemistry. Preference is given to students who are rising seniors. $6,000 stipend and housing costs are provided.

Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Deadline: February 15, 2020
These 12-week summer internships offer undergraduates the opportunity to work on research projects that focus on digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, collections information management, and recording and preserving oral histories. Interns will be located onsite with the National Museum of African American History & Culture and offsite at select African American museums, museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other institution dedicated to preserving African American history and culture. Stipend of $600/week.

Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences – Summer Research Program at Tufts University School of Medicine
Deadline: February 15, 2020
The Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences (BDBS) Program offers a 10-week, mentored research experience for students interested in pursuing a PhD or MD/PhD.  Participants in the program also receive training in written and oral communication of scientific data and learn about careers in biomedical science through workshops. Stipend of $4,000, on-campus housing and travel expenses within the US are provided.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences REU Program
Deadline: February 15, 2020
This highly competitive, 10-week REU program pairs students with scientist mentors for a hands-on, independent research experience. Student applicants should have a minimum of one year of basic biology and at least one earth or ocean science course. Housing and $5,000 stipend provided.

Molecular Biology REU at the Ohio State University
Deadline: February 15, 2020
This NSF-funded research program is hosted by the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the Division of Biochemistry at Ohio State. Selected students will receive a $6,000 stipend and university housing. Students from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply.


• Student Accomplishments – December 2019


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in summer and fall 2019. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Pasquale Mingione V ’21 (CLAS) was a co-author on a recent publication from Dr. Geoffrey Tanner’s (Physiology and Neurobiology) lab:

Lee, D.C., Vali, K., Baldwin, S.R., Divino, J.N., Feliciano, J.L., Fequiere, J.R., Fernandez, M.A., Frageau, J.C., Longo, F.K., Madhoun, S.S., Mingione V, P., O’Toole, T.R., Ruiz, M.G., and Tanner, G.R. (2019). Dietary Supplementation With the Ketogenic Diet Metabolit Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Ameliorates Post-TBI Aggression in Young-Adult Male Drosophila. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 30 October 2019,  doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.01140


James He ’21 (CLAS) spent part of his summer engaged in a research project at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT. Working in the lab of Dr. Edison Liu, CEO and President of the Jackson Laboratory, James’ research investigated a specific genomic configuration in certain cancer types. He was supervised by Dr. Francesca Menghi.

Shankara Narayanan’21 (CLAS) interned at the College of International Security Affairs at National Defense University. He researched Russian operations in Africa with Dr. Erica Marat. Shankara’s research was published by the Jamestwon Foundation, a Washington D.C. think-tank focusing on regions strategically vital to U.S. foreign policy.


  • Saurabh Kumar '21 (CLAS)


2019 Evolution Conference – June 21-25, 2019 – Providence, RI

Alyssa Ferreira ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Development of an Open-Source, Web-Based Database Model for the Tripal Framework to Improve the Quality of Non-Model Eukaryotic Genome Annotation

2019 IEEE MIT Undergraduate Research Technology Conference – October 11-13, 2019 – Cambridge, MA

Camden Craigie ’20 (ENG), Samuel Pevsner ’20 (ENG), Brittany Smith ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Whopper Popper

American Physical Society, Division of Nuclear Physics 2019 Fall Meeting – October 14-17, 2019 – Crystal City, Virginia

Donovan Davino, Aug ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Exploring Thermal Conductivity of Heat Treated Niobium at Cryogenic Temperatures to Produce More Efficient SRF Cavities

Sean Oh ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Radiation Damage Recovery of PbWO4 Crystals with Optical Bleaching

Megan Sturm ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Efficiency Measurements for HPGe Detectors

Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting – October 16-19, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA

Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
A Novel Cerebral Spinal Fluid Flow Sensor

Rohit Makol ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Optimization of Immunohistochemical Staining Methods in Rat Spinal Cord Tissue

Morgan McNamara ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Crosstalk Detection Circuit for Microelectrode Arrays

Helen Phu, Dec ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
A User-Friendly Interface to Wirelessly Control Neuroprostheses

Caroline Thompson ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Bioresorbable Bone Fixation Devices for Load Bearing Fractures Utilizing Silk and Hydroxyapatite

Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Annual Meeting – October 19-23, 2019 – Chicago, IL 

Aditi Anam ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Persistence of Dorsal and Ventral Hippocampal Remapping after Exploring a Novel Environment

Saurabh Kumar ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Developmental Changes to the Neural Stem Cell Niche in Fetal-Onset Hydrocephalus

Judie Wang ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Observational Learning in a Working Memory, Food-Reward Task in Rats

Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting – November 10-15, 2019 – Orlando, FL

Nicole Khusid ’22 (ENG, CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Characterization of Rn-220 as a Calibration Source in EXO-200

Brianna Markunas ’20 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Hydrodeoxygenation of Guaiacol with Ru Catalysts on Various Activated Carbon Supports

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Annual Convention – November 21-24, 2019 – Atlanta, GA 

Adrienne Nguyen ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Relationship between Internalizing Problems and Internet Gaming Disorder Symptoms among Treatment-Seeking Youth

Gabrielle Sharbin ’20 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Evaluating Addictive Behaviors in HIV/Substance Abuse Populations

• SURF 2020 – Program Reminders

With the SURF 2020 application cycle underway, we would like to take the opportunity to emphasize some key reminders regarding the SURF program. SURF continues to offer students from across the academic disciplines the opportunity to focus full-time on a research or creative project for 9-10 weeks over the summer. Shorter-term projects may also be proposed for funding through this program, with the requested award amount scaled down accordingly.

Application Management System

We will continue our use of the UConn Quest Portal, an application management system new last year and powered by SurveyMonkey Apply, to collect, process, and review SURF applications for summer 2020. This system allows students to complete the various components of the SURF application in the most appropriate order for them and to make edits as needed prior to submission of their application.

  • Letters of Recommendation. Two letters of recommendation are required for the SURF application.
    • Student applicants must request recommendation letters through the application system by entering the name and UConn email address of the faculty members who have agreed to write letters on their behalf. The system will send the recommenders an individual link for recommendation submission.
    • Faculty recommenders will receive an email from the Quest Portal on behalf of the student who is requesting a letter of recommendation. Both first and second recommenders will submit their letters through the portal by uploading a PDF file. Faculty who are serving as the project supervisor (1st recommender) will also be asked to answer a series of research compliance questions.

Application Reminders (See the full application outline here)

  • Budget reminders. Students should visit the Budget Policies and Samples page for detailed guidance about allowable expenses (now including maximum dollar amounts for expenses like poster printing) and examples of budgets that show the appropriate level of detail.
    • Student requesting stipend as part of a Plan A or Plan C budget should be careful to use accurate stipend language as noted on the Budget Policies page.
    • Faculty advisors of students conducting laboratory research: Please work with your advisee to ensure s/he has accurate information about the costs of lab supplies that can be procured through university purchasing channels and contracts.
  • Timeline reminders. Student should visit the Sample Timeline page for guidance on developing a detailed timeline. The SURF proposal timeline should clearly indicate start and end dates, the anticipated number of project work hours each week, and a week-by-week listing of planned project milestones.
  • Research Compliance reminders. Students and faculty should note that research compliance approvals are complex and take significant time. Please plan accordingly. While the necessary approvals are not required at the application stage, students should be aware that SURF funding will not be disbursed until all necessary compliance documents have been submitted to OUR, and that SURF awards will be rescinded if documentation is not received by the stated deadline. Both faculty and students are reminded to take care in reading the series of questions concerning biological materials as this category encompasses a wide range of items.

ESTA Requirement/Documentation of Safety Training

Students proposing SURF project work that will take place in a setting with hazards such as a lab, theater, or studio will be required to complete the Employee Safety Training Assessment (ESTA) with their faculty mentor to determine which safety training courses are required in order to work where hazards are present.

  • Student applicants will be asked about completion of the ESTA in the Research Compliance section of the application. We encourage students to complete the ESTA with their faculty supervisor prior to submitting their application.
  • Information on how to document completion of the ESTA and completion of the indicated training/registration for upcoming training is available on OUR’s Safety Training page.

We look forward to another excellent set of SURF applications this year! The application deadline is 11:59pm on Monday, February 3, 2020. Letters of recommendation are due by this date as well. We encourage all students to make use of SURF Office Hours to seek feedback on their draft materials and to ask any questions they might have about the program or the application. SURF Office Hours are scheduled for 1/21, 1/24, and 1/27. Full detail about times and location can be found in the sidebar on the main SURF webpage.

• Deadlines Approaching for Summer 2020 Research Opportunities

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get valuable research experience this summer. Undergraduate students who are interested in participating in a summer research program should be preparing applications and requesting letters of recommendation now! Check out the following summer research programs with January and early February deadlines.

University of Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences – Summer Undergraduate Research Experience
Deadline: January 15, 2020
The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences offers a summer undergraduate research program for students in their sophomore year or later at the time of application. Some level of previous research experience is recommended. Offers extended to only 6-8 students; $3,500 stipend and housing provided.

NORC Summer Intern Program – University of Chicago
Deadline: January 24, 2020
This 9-week paid summer internship is designed for upper level undergraduate students with an interest in social science research. The program introduces interns to the design, implementation and analysis of large surveys. Students will have the opportunity to learn the principles of survey research from leading practitioners while exploring recent innovations in data collection techniques and the integration of survey data with other types of data.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies – Summer REU Program in Translational Ecology
Deadline: January 24, 2020
Cary Institute’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program provides the opportunity for 8-12 students each summer to conduct ecology research at a world-class institute. Students selected for this 12-week program receive a $6,600 stipend, a $900 food allowance and housing in an Institute dormitory.

NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) – Bay Area Environmental Research Institute
Deadline: January 29, 2020
This 8-week summer internship program is targeted at rising seniors with a strong background in any of the physical, chemical, or biological sciences, mathematics or engineering and an interest in applying their background to the study of the Earth system. Research areas include atmospheric chemistry, air quality, forest ecology, and ocean biology. SARP participants will acquire hands-on research experience using one or more NASA Airborne Science Program flying science laboratories.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP)
Deadline: January 31, 2020
The CHOP Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP) is committed to educating and training future leaders in the biomedical sciences, with a special emphasis on advancing laboratory, clinical, behavioral and translational pediatric research. Summer stipend of $5,000 and housing provided.

NSF-REU Internships in Astronomy – Maria Mitchell Observatory
Deadline: February 1, 2020
Six REU internship positions are available for qualified undergraduate astronomy and physics students. These positions provide students the opportunity to conduct independent research supervised by a senior staff member of MMO. $2,000 per month stipend and housing provided.

Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Deadline: February 1, 2020
This program provides a short-term training experience in either laboratory research or clinical research. Students will be matched with a faculty mentor and will participate in the mentor’s ongoing research projects. Qualified students with an interest in cancer research are encouraged to apply. $400/week stipend provided to selected students.

SAO REU Summer Intern Program
Deadline: February 1, 2020
The SAO Summer intern program is a research experience for undergraduates where students work on an astrophysics research project under the supervision of an SAO or Harvard scientist. Undergraduates interested in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply. The 10-week program takes place at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Stipend of $500/week.

Arecibo Observatory REU Summer Program
Deadline: February 3, 2020 (online application); February 10, 2020 (supporting documents);
Students selected for this 10-week summer research opportunity will work with staff scientists at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on projects related to ongoing research or instrumentation development. Applicants must be a US citizen or permanent resident and must be enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program during Fall 2020. Strong candidates will be students majoring in astronomy, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Stipend of $450 per week.

Summer Internships in Science and Technology (SIST) – Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
Deadline: February 3, 2020
Fermilab’s SIST program offers 12-week summer internships in science and technology. Internships available in physics, engineering (mechanical, electrical and computer), materials science, mathematics and computer science offer a chance for students to conduct research with Fermilab scientists and engineers. Hourly pay ranges from $15.83/hr-$20.56/hr depending on your year in school.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program – Gerstner Sloan Kettering
Deadline: February 3, 2020
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering sponsors a 10-week summer research program for undergraduate students who are interested in the biomedical sciences. This is a competitive program that accepts 20 students. Applicants must have research experience. $6,000 stipend and housing provided.

REU Program in Solar and Space Physics – University of Colorado Boulder
Deadline: February 3, 2020
This 10-week summer REU program targets students with an interest in solar and space physics. Students work under the direction of scientists from one of a number of participating institutions, including Colorado’s Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics and the High Altitude Observatory. $500/week stipend and housing provided.

Summer Fellowship Program in Vision Science, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester
Deadline: February 3, 2020
Rising juniors and seniors with an interest in neuroscience, cognitive science and biomedical science are encouraged to apply for this summer of supervised laboratory training. $4,136 stipend and on-campus housing provided.

State University of New York Upstate Medical University – Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program
Deadline: February 3, 2020<
Applicants to this 10-week program should be undergraduate students in good academic standing, who will be between their junior and senior years during the summer of 2020, and are majors in chemistry, biology, or a related field. Applicants should have a strong interest in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in biomedical research. $3,500 stipend and housing provided.

Hartford Hospital Summer Student Pre-Med & Research Program
Deadline: February 7, 2020
This 10-week program offers pre-med students an introduction to research methodology, patient treatment, and ethical issues in medicine. Applicants must be pre-med students completing their junior year by May 2020. Minimum of $3,400 award for selected students.