Author: Eskin, Jodi

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.

• Plan Now for Summer 2020 Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students who are interested in participating in a summer research or internship program need to plan ahead. December is the time to gather together all the required elements of the applications, including faculty letters of recommendation. All of the exciting summer opportunities listed below have application deadlines in December or January! Check out the programs below and consider if any would fit with your research goals and interests.

DAAD RISE – Research Internships in Science and Engineering in Germany
Deadline: Applications are due by December 15, 2019; Letters of Reference are due by December 22,
DAAD RISE gives students in the fields of biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering, and physics the chance to spend a summer working on research projects with doctoral students at German universities and research institutions. Interested students must first register online between November 1, 2019 and December 15, 2019. Student application materials must be submitted by December 15, 2019, with letters of reference due December 22, 2019.

Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI)
Deadline: January 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET
The Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program encourages undergraduate students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers by providing research experiences at the Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories. Selected students participate as interns appointed at one of 17 participating DOE laboratories.

Summer ORISE Fellowship Opportunities at the CDC
Deadline: January 10, 2020;
Appointments through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellowship Program. Undergraduate students majoring in the applied sciences may apply. Biology and chemistry majors are preferred. Stipend of approximately $2,900 per month for undergraduate students.

Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship Program (MLEF)
Deadline: January 12, 2020;
The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy. It is a 10-week summer internship program that provides opportunities to students who are pursuing degrees in STEM fields. The goal of the program is to improve opportunities for minority and female students in these fields, but all eligible candidates are encouraged to apply.

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) Summer Scholars Program
Deadline: January 15, 2020 at 12:00pm PST
This program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct biomedical research under the guidance of a scientific mentor. Paid positions are available at a number of research institutions including Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Harvard Medical School, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, and SRF Research Center. Full descriptions of each research project can be found at the website link above.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – Undergraduate Research Program 2020
Deadline: January 15, 2020;
The URP program is designed to give students an opportunity to conduct first-rate research under the supervision of senior laboratory staff in the areas of cancer biology, neuroscience, plant biology, cellular and molecular biology, genetics and bioinformatics, and genomics. Selected students receive room and board in addition to a $5,500 stipend.

ThinkSwiss Research Scholarships
Deadline: January 15, 2020;
ThinkSwiss scholarships support highly motivated undergraduates who are interested in doing research at a public Swiss university or research institute. The scholarship is open to students in all fields. A monthly stipend of approximately $1,650 is provided for a period of 2-3 months.

Summer Research Experience Program in Cancer Science – Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Deadline: January 17, 2020;
This 10-week summer research program is open to students who are college juniors or junior-equivalents (credit-wise) at the time of application and who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree towards a biomedical research career. Areas of research include, but are not limited to: cancer biophysics, tumor immunology, cancer genetics, molecular pharmacology. Selected students will be working in a Roswell Park department alongside professional researchers and graduate students.

Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP) – Columbia University
Deadline: January 31, 2020;
The Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP) is designed for undergraduate students who are interested in public health and biomedical science careers. Applicants must have completed at least two years of college. Students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply, and 42 students will be selected to participate. Students will receive a stipend, housing, and round trip travel.

Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB)
Deadline: January 31, 2020;
The SUPERB Computer and Information Science and Engineering program provides undergraduates with the opportunity to work on research projects focused on using Big Data. This 9-week program is open to rising juniors or seniors who have completed some upper division course work in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Stipend of $4,500, housing, meals, and $600 travel allowance provided.

Maternal Child Health Careers/Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement – Undergraduate Program (MCHC/RISE-UP)
Deadline: January 31, 2020;
MCHC/RISE-UP provides opportunities for enhanced public leadership in the area of maternal and child health. Three tracks are offered: clinical, research, and community engagement and advocacy. This program is open to juniors, seniors, and recent baccalaureate degree scholars interested in learning more about public health. A stipend ($3,000-$3,500) and housing are provided.

Kathryn Allen: The value of major exploration in discovering a research interest

Kathryn Allen ’19 (CLAS) earned her bachelor’s degree this spring and shares the value of an unexpected academic “detour” in this essay.

When I first entered UConn, I had a plan. Like many eager incoming freshmen, I would major in Biology; take classes that follow the pre-med track, hopefully gain some research experience, and ultimately apply to medical school the summer of my junior year. However, also true of many freshmen entering the academia environment, that plan would soon change over my time at UConn.

After enjoying a few courses that were not strictly biology focused, I began thinking about a major that would provide both science-oriented subjects and those focused on the humanities. During my sophomore year, I changed my major to Cognitive Science, an interdisciplinary major, and began exploring various subjects including linguistics, psychology, and speech language and hearing science. My new major, while quite small, was a perfect medium that allowed me to enroll in a wider array of unique courses, while still having adequate time to fulfill the pre-med requirements. By the end of my sophomore year, I started to recognize my interest in topics like child development, language, and neurological disorders and function.

At this point in my undergraduate career, I began my search for a lab that would allow me to complete my thesis. Like many uncertain undergraduate students, I had no idea where to begin my search. During my junior year, I reached out to a professor in the psychology department, met with them about their interests and area of research, and eventually began working in their lab. Throughout the semester, I gained valuable experience running clinical trials, but realized that I wished to conduct my thesis on a different topic.

Towards the end of my junior year, my academic advisor, Dr. Naigles mentioned that she had a spot opening up in her lab, as well as a project she thought I might be interested in. I had taken two classes with her during my time at UConn and she proposed a project that had both language and neural components; two areas I was particularly interested in. Knowing that I was behind on my project compared to my classmates, I began doing preliminary work on it during the summer before senior year. I worked from home transcribing audio of story narratives told by both children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and typically developing children. In the fall, I had the opportunity to accompany our graduate student to a home to collect additional story narratives. A graduate student in our lab had previously collected the Auditory Brainstem Response data with an EEG and my project focused on the relationship between story narratives and internal brainstem response for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and typically developing (TD) children.

As I was transcribing the data, I realized noticeable differences between the narratives derived from the children diagnosed with ASD and those from the TD children; however, I could not initially explain why. I proposed to Dr. Naigles a method for assessing if these differences were significant. I generated a document featuring story narrative transcripts from the children, administered the transcripts to peers and had them rate the stories based on how well they understood them. Dr. Naigles was supportive and encouraging of the creative component of the project and suggested that we include it.

After transcription was performed during the summer, I spent the fall administering the transcripts to peers and analyzing the data. Prior to this project, I had never used SPSS besides minimal exposure in STAT1000Q and was not entirely sure what I was doing. However, as the months progressed, the data analysis became easier and easier. By the end of the project, I was able to run correlations, identify whether to run a paired or unpaired t-test, interpret statistical significance, and

Kathryn Allen presenting her research at the INSAR conference.
Kathryn Allen ’19 (CLAS)


During my spring semester I compiled the data, started writing my thesis, and with the encouragement of Dr. Naigles, I applied to present my findings at an international conference held in Montreal, CA. The aid from the OUR grant made my attendance at the conference possible. I had few expectations of what it meant to present a poster at a conference, let alone attend one, but when I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. I hope to attend medical school in the future and have interests ranging across disciplines. During the conference, I was able to attend talks focused on an array of different topics, such as clinical treatments, genetic predispositions to Autism Spectrum Disorders, and global disparities within the medical field. They were fascinating and educating. My poster presentation was scheduled for the second day I was there. I am generally not nervous when it comes to talking to new people, but when I knew I would be presenting my findings to experts in the field, I clammed up. Dr. Naigles helped me practice how to present the poster, which calmed my nerves significantly. Gradually, individuals approached my poster and began asking questions. As time went on, I became less and less nervous and it felt natural to tell others about the findings of my research.

The aid from the OUR grant not only allowed me to attend a conference, but it offered a space for me to explore exciting ongoing research, and refine my public speaking skills, which will be valuable for my future career in medicine. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to complete a project of my own and attend a conference where I was able to present my thesis to others in the field. Ultimately, I am happy my initial plan entering college took the many detours it did to get me to where I am today and surpass all my expectations as to what research can entail for an undergraduate at UConn.

• Student Accomplishments – May 2019

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


Congratulations to Shaylin Cetegen ’19 (ENG), Eric Lepowsky ’19 (ENG), Leann McLaren ’19 (CLAS), and Hetal Patel ’19 (ENG), the undergraduate recipients of 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships! They are among the 11 UConn students and alumni who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships this year.2019 UConn Goldwater Scholars

For the first time, four UConn students have been named Goldwater Scholars in a single year. Congratulations to Berk Alpay ’21 (ENG, CLAS), Ariane Garrett ’20 (ENG, CLAS), Sam Markelon ’20 (ENG), and Saurabh Kumar ’20 (CLAS), pictured at right, who were recognized for their outstanding ability and promise, as well as their intention to pursue advanced study and research careers. Learn more about the awardees in this UConn Today article.


University Scholar and Health Research Program participant Brian Aguilera ’19 (CLAS) was a co-author on a recent publication from the Ghosh and Shapiro groups in the Center for Vascular Biology at UConn Health:

Ghosh, M., Lo, R., Ivic, I., Aguilera, B., Qendro, V., Devarakonda, C., & Shapiro, L.H. (2019). CD13 tethers the IQGAP1-ARF6-EFA6 complex to the plasma membrane to promote ARF6 activation, β1 integrin recycling, and cell migration. Science Signaling 12. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aav5938

Four undergraduate researchers in Dr. Alexander Jackson’s lab – Eric Beltrami ’19 (CLAS), Brock Chimileski ’17 (CLAS), James Costanzo ’19 (CLAS), and Jacob Naparstek ’18 (CLAS) – were coauthors on this Nature Neuroscience article:

Mickelsen, L.E., Bolisetty, M., Chimileski, B.R., Fujita, A., Beltrami, E.J., Costanzo, J.T., Naparstek, J.R., Robson, P., & Jackson, A.C. (2019). Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of the lateral hypothalamic area reveals molecularly distinct populations of inhibitory and excitatory neurons. Nature Neuroscience 22, 642-656. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0349-8

Patrick Briody ’20 (CLAS), Saurabh Kumar ’20 (CLAS), and Derek Pan ’20 (CLAS), all OUR Supply Award recipients, were co-authors on a recent publication based on research conducted in Dr. Joanne Conover’s lab:

Coletti, A.M., Singh, D., Kumar, S., Shafin, T.N., Briody, P.J., Babbitt, B., Pan, D., Norton, E.S., Brown, E.C., Kahle, K.T., Del Bigio, M.R., & Conover, J.C. (2018). Characterization of the ventricular-subventricular stem cell niche during human brain development. Development 2018.

SHARE Award recipient Divya Ganugapati ’19 (CLAS) was the first author on an article based on research in Dr. Rachel Theodore’s Laboratory for Spoken Language Processing:

Ganugapati, D., & Theodore, R.M. (2019). Structured phonetic variation facilitates talker identification. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 145. doi: 10.1121/1.5100166

Emily Karr ’19 (CLAS) co-authored two book chapters based on research conducted in Dr. Alaina Brenick’s research group in Human Development and Family Studies:

Brenick, A., Schachner, M.K., Carvalheiro, D., & Karr, E. (2019). (No) space for prejudice! Varied forms of negative outgroup attitudes and ethnic discrimination and how they develop or can be prevented in the classroom. In H.E. Fitzgerald et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Children and Prejudice: Integrating Research, Practice, and Policy, pp. 315-330. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Brenick, A., Flannery, K., Karr, E., & Carvalheiro, D. (in press). Send nudes? Evaluating sexting and victimization as related to attachment and rejection sensitivity: Incorporating sexual minority perspectives. In M.F. Wright (Ed.), Recent Advances in Digital Media Impacts on Identity, Sexuality, and Relations. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Elliott Wilion ’19 (CLAS) co-authored an article based on research in Dr. James Li’s laboratory:

Wizeman, J.W., Guo, Q., Wilion, E.M., & Li, J.Y.H. (2019). Specification of diverse cell types during early neurogenesis of the mouse cerebellum. eLife 8. doi: 10.7554/eLife.42388


Spring 2019 included a series of art exhibitions and screenings by the following undergraduate students:

  • Flyer for Making Welcome: Space, Material, and Human-Centered Design
Olivia Crosby ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Making Welcome: Space, Material, and Human Centered Design

Kenny Glazer ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Moving Day

Lucian Hatfield ’19 (SFA), Regan Kilkenny ’20 (SFA), Christian Partenio ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipients
The Color of You

Kat Folker ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
There is Something in the Woods: A Short Horror Film

Isabella Saraceni ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Anonymous Is A Woman

Blue Wallick ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Prismatic: Reflections on Transgender and Non-Binary Experiences


American Astronomical Society Annual Meeting – January 6-10, 2019 – Seattle, WA

Aisha Massiah ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Search For Galaxies That Host Multiple Type Ia Supernova

Joint Mathematics Meetings – January 9-12, 2019 – Baltimore, MD

Anthony Sisti ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Option Pricing for the VIX and TYVIX Indexes using a Risk-Neutral Historical Distribution

  • Leann Mclaren presenting at the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting.
    Leann Mclaren '19 (CLAS)
Plant and Animal Genome XXVII Conference – January 12-16, 2019 – San Diego, CA

Alyssa Ferreira ’20 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigation of Strategies to Improve Annotation and Assembly of Conifer Genomes

Olivia Maher ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Expression Analysis of Needle Abscission in the Deciduous Eastern Larch (L. laricina)

Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy – January 30-February 1, 2019 – Blacksburg, VA

Jillianne Garcia ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Anti-“Weathering” Strategies

Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM – February 21-23, 2019 – Washington, DC

Paulina Frutos ’19 (CLAS, CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Study of Wetland Restoration Structures on Microbial Functionality

Eastern Psychological Association Meeting – February 28-March 2, 2019 – New York, NY  

Carly Danziger ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Dyadic Worry Induced in a Laboratory Setting Increases Anxiety Between Friends

Christina Flores ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The EEG Mu Rhythm and Temperament in 6- and 12-month-olds

Jeffrey Hunt ’20 (CLAS) & Nathan Rivera ’19 (CALS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Physiological Concomitants of Dyadic Worry Between Friends

Emmalyn Lecky ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Cognitive Biases for Erotic or Cannabis Stimuli

Kimberly Morais ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Can Discussing Worries Promote Anxiety Contagion?

  • Kimberly Morais presenting at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting.
    Kimberly Morais '19 (CLAS)
American Physical Society National Meeting – March 4-8, 2019 – Boston, MA 

Meagan Sundstrom ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
How do Interactive Physics Learning Environments foster Intellectual Humility?

Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting – March 6-9, 2019 – Washington, DC

Mareyna Simon ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Using Consumer-Grade EEG Devices to Measure Meditation Progress: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Northeast Writing Center Association Conference – March 30-31, 2019 – Danbury, CT

Alexandra Atherton ’19 (CLAS), Ethan Couillard ’22 (CLAS), Caitlyn Cubilla ’20 (CLAS), Donovan Davino ’20 (CLAS), Mia Dupuis ’19 (CLAS), & Nina Lupo ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Where Writing Meets STEM: Finding Meaning in a Multidisciplinary Academic Center

Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting – April 1, 2019 – Hartford, CT

Caitlyn Sward ’19 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
#EATINGFORTWO: What are People Posting About When They Use this Hashtag in Instagram Posts about Diet, Physical Activity, and Weight Gain During Pregnancy?

Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting – April 4-7, 2019 – Chicago, IL

Leann McLaren ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
West Indian Diasporic Consciousness: The Case of Hartford, CT

Mary Vlamis ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Torts, Judges, and Juries: Assessing Confidence in the Civil Justice System

Jessica Weaver ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The Feminine Touch: How Female Representation Affects the Legislative Success of Women’s Issues Legislation

Northeast Algal Symposium – April 26-28, 2019 – Salem, MA

Maryam Shahbadi ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Diversity of Terrestrial Green Algae from Chile and Panama, with a Focus on Diplosphaera (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta)

Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting – April 27-30, 2019 – Baltimore, MD

Maryyam Ali ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Risk Factors and Exposure to Violence in Pediatric Emergency Department Patients

Maria Antony ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Family Perspectives on Accessing Community Resources to Mitigate Toxic Stress

Adrienne Nguyen ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Impact of Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP)

International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting – May 1-4, 2019 – Montreal, Canada

Kathryn Allen ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Are Variations in Narrative Language Reflected in Early Auditory Processing Via ABR?

• Congratulations, 2019 SURF Award Recipients!

SURF logo 2The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the selection of 45 undergraduate students to receive SURF Awards in support of their summer undergraduate research projects.

Click here to view the full list of Summer 2019 SURF awardees.

Congratulations, SURF awardees! Your academic achievements, curiosity, initiative, and motivation were evident in your applications. You have an exciting summer of deep engagement with the process of academic inquiry ahead of you. We look forward to hearing about all you learn and discover!

We thank the faculty members who supported SURF applicants in a range of roles: mentors, letter writers, and faculty review committee members. SURF represents a collaborative effort between students and faculty. This program would not be possible without the support and participation of the UConn faculty!

OUR also extends thanks to SURF supporters in the UConn community. We are grateful to the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and to the Deans of the Schools and Colleges of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources; Engineering; Nursing; and Pharmacy, who all contributed funding to the SURF competition this year. Alumni, parents, and friends of UConn also helped fund SURF awards. This collaborative funding effort ensures that SURF supports a diverse array of undergraduate research endeavors. We are grateful to all of our program partners for making intensive summer research opportunities available to students seeking to enrich their undergraduate experience in this way.

Once again, congratulations to the recipients of 2019 SURF awards, and good luck with your summer projects!

Analyse Giordano '20 (CAHNR)
With her SURF Award, Analyse Giordano ’20 (CAHNR) will research whether biocompatible ceramic nanoparticles and nanotexturing can increase the longevity of implantable glucose monitors. (Carson Stifel/UConn Photo)
Isabella Ferrante '19 (CLAS)
Isabella Ferrante ’19 (CLAS) will conduct SURF-supported research in archives in the UK to understand how Shell Shock was perceived and understood after World War I. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

• Summer Research Opportunities Accepting Applications

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 accepting applications through late February or early March. There is still time to prepare a personal statement, gather application materials, and secure letters of recommendation.

Nanotechnology for Health, Energy, and the Environment – Stony Brook University
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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. $4,000 stipend, free housing and a meal plan. Stipend $600/week for the 12-week internship period.

Robert Frederick Smith Internship Program – Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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. 

Maryland Sea Grant REU Program
Deadline: February 16, 2019
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.

Summer Internships in Plant Health – Kansas State University
Deadline: February 18, 2019
The program is designed for students with an interest in plant pathology, horticulture, crop genetics, entomology, or agronomy. Students must identify the projects they are most interested in working on as part of the application process. This Research and Extension Experience (REEU) program is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. $4,900 stipend, housing, and meals provided.

Microbial Friends & Foes REU Program – Cornell University
Deadline: February 21, 2019
Students selected for this REU program will work with faculty mentors in the Cornell Institute of Host-Microbe Interactions and Disease (CIHMID). The program provides training in the concepts and experimental approaches needed to understand microbial interactions with eukaryotic hosts. Stipend of $5,750, on-campus housing, and meal allowance.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography – University of Rhode Island
Deadline: February 21, 2019
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Oceanography program is a 10-week research experience designed for science, math, and engineering students who will be seniors in Fall 2019. The program emphasizes the quantitative aspects of Oceanography; many projects involve fluid dynamics, marine geophysics, or numerical/physical modeling. $5,500 stipend.

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) Undergraduate Summer Research Internship – Virginia Tech
Deadline: 5pm, February 22, 2019
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.

Analytical Studies Intern Program – Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI)
Deadline: February 25, 2019
These 10-week summer internships offer undergraduates the opportunity to work on research projects with staff in MCI’s technical studies and research group. MCI is the center for specialized technical collections research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and research centers. Applicants should specify preferred advisors (from the list on the website) in their applications.

Dangremond Museum Studies Internship – Connecticut Historical Society
Deadline: March 8, 2019
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.