• 2019 Mentorship Excellence Awards


In recognition of the pivotal role that mentors play in supporting undergraduate research and creative activity, the Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the recipents of the 2019 Mentorship Excellence Awards. These awards recognize two faculty members – one in a STEM field, and one in a non-STEM field – and one graduate student who exemplify the ways in which outstanding mentors challenge and support their students, enabling them to take intellectual risks and achieve milestones they might not have initially envisioned being able to reach.

The 2019 Mentorship Excellence Awards were presented to Seok-Woo Lee, Charles W. Mahoney, and Elizabeth Knapp during the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Friday, April 12, 2019.

Seok-Woo Lee, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Professor Lee’s award was presented by Hetal Patel ’19 (ENG). The following text is excerpted from Hetal’s presentation remarks.

Hetal Patel presents plaque to awardee Seok-Woo Lee.
Hetal Patel ’19 (ENG) presents the award to her mentor, Professor Seok-Woo Lee.

When I started at UConn in the School of Engineering, I had set a benchmark by which I would define my success in the next four years, and that was to have a full-time engineering job ready before I graduated. In my first semester, I noticed many of the undergraduates do research, particularly in the honors community, and so I decided it would be a good idea to join a lab and to learn more about my field. I reached out to many professors and it was Dr. Lee who showed an interest in me joining his group. This is where my story took off. During our very first meeting, his passion for science, his care towards his students, and his immense positive energy became clear. In the last four years, this hasn’t changed a single bit. We have been meeting 1×1 every single week and his care and kindness towards me have been a steady source of motivation.

On the technical side, he has trained me to have a strong foundation and has taught me to be patient and think divergently because things don’t go as planned in research. He gave me projects that led to publication in high impact journals and also gave me the opportunity to present my UScholar work at one of the biggest Materials Science conferences. He always encouraged me to try other labs or internships and when it came to applying for graduate schools, he always said to aim higher. He has been a constant support when it comes to writing papers, thesis, posters, or applications, whether it was for UScholar, fellowships, summer programs or graduate school.

Overall, he has changed the trajectory of my career through his energy, passion, and care. I have exceeded all my academic expectations for myself in the last four years due to Dr. Lee’s immense commitment to mentor me. He has dedicated hundreds of hours towards me in a selfless manner and has worked far beyond his required duties for me to be here. He works so incredibly hard that it inspires me to work even harder.

To end, I am happy to say I will be heading to UC Berkeley this fall for my Ph.D. in MSE on a prestigious Department of Defense fellowship. Clearly, my goals and benchmark have changed, and I owe that to Dr. Lee. If I hadn’t met him I would have never thought of applying for University Scholar or have decided to pursue a Ph.D. Having him as my research advisor is the best thing that happened to me at UConn. Dr. Lee is the highlight of my day and his mentorship is the hallmark of my UConn career.

Charles W. Mahoney, Professor, English
Professor Mahoney’s award was presented by Lauren Cenci ’19 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Lauren’s presentation remarks.

Lauren Cenci presents plaque to awardee Charles W. Mahoney.
Lauren Cenci ’19 (CLAS) presents the award to her mentor, Professor Charles W. Mahoney.

Describing Professor Charles Mahoney’s extraordinary mentorship to me over the past several semesters in just a few short remarks is a difficult task. His passion for what he does is unmatched and very evident to anyone who has taken a class with him. I first met Professor Mahoney during my second official semester as an English major, during which I enrolled in his advanced poetry course on Lord Byron. I entered that course with little direction and confidence in myself as an English student but exited with a strong sense of purpose and a heightened awareness of English poetry. Professor Mahoney sees the best in each of his students and pushes them to strive to achieve this. He has high expectations of his students because he is aware of their potential and as such will not accept anything short of their finest work.

Charles is the chair of my University Scholar Project on the elegy, a genre of poetry that deals with mortal loss and mourning; I have completed two independent studies with him and am currently finishing up my thesis project this semester with his diligent guidance and feedback. The type of work I have pursued with Charles made me realize that I want to pursue a graduate degree in English and this fall I submitted applications to various universities. Throughout the summer, Charles read several drafts of both my critical writing sample and personal statement, provided in-depth feedback on both documents, and met with me on multiple occasions to discuss my progress. I most certainly would not have had the confidence to apply to graduate school had he not made me aware of my potential and research prowess.

Although Charles is very tough on his students and holds them to high standards, he is one of the kindest and most caring professors I have ever had the privilege of working with. It is rare to encounter a professor of his caliber, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with him and grow as a student and a scholar with his guidance. Despite being an extremely busy individual, he has never made me feel as though my work is unimportant; each meeting and correspondence I have with him feels like a priority. This upcoming fall I will be attending graduate school, and I firmly believe that Charles’s exceptional mentorship has both gotten me to this point as well as thoroughly prepared me for what lies ahead.

Elizabeth Knapp, Ph.D. Candidate, Physiology and Neurobiology, Sun Laboratory
Elizabeth was presented with her award by Ekatarina (Katya) Skaritanov ’20 (CLAS) and Celina Caetano ’19 (CLAS), two of the undergraduate researchers who work under her supervision in the Sun lab. The following text is excerpted from Katya’s presentation remarks.

Ekatarina Skaritanov (left) and Celina Caetano (right) present plaque to awardee Elizabeth Knapp (center).
Ph.D. candidate Elizabeth Knapp (center) is presented her award by mentees Ekatarina Skaritanov ’20 (CLAS), at left, and Celina Caetano ’19 (CLAS), at right.

Over the past year I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Liz Knapp in the Sun Lab. Her intelligence, passion for teaching, and kind heart inspire me to put my best foot forward and not give up even when experiments don’t go according to plan.

I can confidently say that without Liz I would not be the scientist I am today. One of the most important lessons she taught me is that making mistakes only makes you a better researcher. After all, it is only through failure in the lab that one can develop patience and perseverance, which are key to successful research. I have witnessed Liz’s passion for teaching through how much she cares about everyone she works with. Whether she is at her computer making figures, or at the microscope doing experiments, I know that I can approach her with a question and get a thoughtful answer. No matter how busy she is, she will always make time to explain things in multiple ways to ensure you understand the logic. Liz does not only make sure that you understand WHAT you’re doing, but also that you understand WHY you’re doing it, which is imperative to leading a successful independent research project.

For a long time when I first started in lab I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Even though I had my own project, I felt lost because I didn’t fully understand all the background and jargon behind my work. However, during one of our first sessions at the confocal microscope and probably without even realizing it, Liz raised my confidence and self-esteem by telling me that she was once in the exact same position I was in and that soon everything I feel like I don’t understand will naturally fall into place.

Liz, thank you for being the epitome of what a strong and confident woman in science looks like. Thank you for pushing me to be the best that I can be, and putting up with all my questions even when I ask you the same one five times in a row. Thank you for being a good friend, and most of all thank you for infecting us all with your love and excitement for science.

Congratulations to the 2019 award recipients! The Office of Undergraduate Research thanks the undergraduate students who nominated their faculty and graduate student mentors as well as the Peer Research Ambassadors who served on this year’s selection committee.

• 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.

• Health Research Program – Opportunities for Summer 2019

Brian Aguilera with Prof. Mallika Ghosh
HRP student Brian Aguilera ’19 (CLAS) working with his UConn Health mentor, Dr. Mallika Ghosh, Center for Vascular Biology.

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 2019, here is the key information:

  • Summer 2019 opportunities are now posted on the HRP website. There are 31 opportunities that range from public health to biological modeling, biomaterials to neuroscience, genetics to psychiatry. The application deadline for these opportunities is 11:59pm on Monday, February 4, 2019.
  • All of these opportunities are slated to continue into the 2019-20 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 2019 HRP opportunities, students must plan to graduate no sooner than May 2020.

Further details and answers to 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.

• Additional Summer Research Opportunities – Apply Now

Interested in spending the summer engaged in an exciting research project? Although February is fast approaching, there is still time to apply for summer research opportunities in a variety of areas 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 1, 2019. 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.

Summer Undergraduate Research Experience – University at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Deadline: February 1, 2019
The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences offers a summer undergraduate research program for students in their junior year (at the time of application). Offers extended to only 6-8 students; $3,500 stipend and housing provided.

Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship Program (BESIP)
Deadline: February 2,
This program, sponsored by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), is targeted at undergraduate biomedical engineering students who will be between their junior and senior years in summer 2019. This program is a subprogram of the Summer Internship Program (SIP). Students will participate in biomedical research projects under the direction of scientists at NIH laboratories in Bethesda, MD. 

UCSD MSTP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program
Deadline: February 4, 2019
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 – State University of New York Upstate Medical University
Deadline: February 4, 2019
This 10-week summer research program is for students majoring in chemistry, biology, or a related field. Applicants should be between their junior and senior years (in Summer 2019) and have a strong interest in pursuing post undergraduate study. Students should be specifically interested in pursuing a PhD, MS, MD, MD/PhD, DNP, DPT, MPH, or PA. $3,500 stipend and housing provided.

Hartford Hospital Summer Student Pre-Med & Research Program 
Deadline: February 6, 2019
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 2019. $2,600 award for selected students.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program – UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deadline: February 9, 2019
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 9, 2019
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.

Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowships in Law and Social Science
Deadline: February 15, 2019
The American Bar Foundation sponsors a program of summer research fellowships. The summer program is designed to introduce students from diverse backgrounds to the benefits of a research-oriented career in the field of law and social science. Open to students who will have completed at least two years of undergraduate study by the time the fellowship begins. Selected students will receive a stipend of $3,600.

Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences – Summer Research Program at Tufts University School of Medicine
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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.

Materials Research Science and Engineering Center REU at Northwestern University
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Summer Student Fellowship
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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 2018 are eligible to apply. Stipend of approximately $600/week for 10-12 weeks and institutional housing provided.

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences REU Program
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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, 2019
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 $5,250 stipend and university housing. Students from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences are encouraged to apply.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Internship Program
Deadline: February 15, 2019
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.

• Student Accomplishments – December 2018


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in summer and fall 2018. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Keara Frawley ’18 (ENG) was first author on a recent publication from Dr. Seok-Woo Lee’s lab and her paper is featured in the journal cover:

Frawley, K.G., Bakst, I., Sypek, J.T., Vijayan, S., Weinberger, C.R., Canfield, P.C., Aindow, M., & Lee, S. (2018). A Nanoindentation Study of the Plastic Deformation and Fracture Mechanisms in Single-Crystalline CaFe2As2. The Journal of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society, 70(7). doi: 10.1007/s11837-018-2851-y

William Hunt ’19 (ENG) was a co-author on a recent publication from Dr. Kevin Brown’s (Biomedical Engineering) research group:

Brown, K.S., Allopenna, P.D., Hunt, W.R., Steiner, R., Saltzman, E., McRae, K., & Magnuson, J.S. (2018). Universal Features in Phonological Neighbor Networks. Entropy, 20(7), 526; doi: 10.3390/e20070526

Craig Mendonca ’18 (CLAS) worked in the Gene Therapy Center in Dr. Guangping Gao’s lab at UMass Medical School. Craig was a co-author on a recent publication from this research internship:

Wang, D., Li, J, Song, C.Q., Tran, K., Mou, H., Wu, P.H., Tai, P.W.L., Mendonca, C.A., Ren, L., Wang, B.Y., Su, Q., Gessler, D.J., Zamore, P.D., Xue, W., & Gao, G. (2018). Cas9-mediated allelic exchange repairs compound heterozygous recessive mutations in mice. Nature Biotechnology, 36. doi: 10.1038/nbt.4219

Kathleen Renna ’20 (CAHNR), an undergraduate in the Health Research Program, and Yue (Jacky) Yang ’19 (ENG), a 2018 SURF student, were co-authors on a recent publication based on research conducted with Dr. Ephraim Trakhtenberg at UConn Health:

Rheaume, B.A., Jereen, A., Bolisetty, M., Sajid, M.S., Yang, Y., Renna, K., Sun, L., Robson, P., & Trakhtenberg, E.F. (2018). Single Cell Transcriptome Profiling of Retinal Ganglion Cells Identifies Cellular Subtypes. Nature Communications, 9(1). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05134-3


Jiana Baker ’20 (CLAS) conducted research in Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar’s lab in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UConn Health through the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) Summer Research Fellowship Program. Jiana presented her work “Novel Polymer-Nanotube Composites: Small Molecule Drug Delivery Systems for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration” at the HCOP poster session.

Claudia Fernanda Pena-Sulantay ’20 (ENG) spent her summer in Nove Hrady, Czech Republic, engaged in a research project at the Center for Nanobiology and Structural Biology (CNSB). Her work on the project “Structural and functional analysis of the yeast K+ translocation system(s) encoded by TRK1 and TRK 2 genes” was part of the REU program in Molecular Biophysics sponsored by Princeton University.

Tanya Miller ’20 (CLAS) engaged in structural biology research at the Laboratory of Structural Biology which is part of BIOCEV, the Biotechnology and Biomedicine Center of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec, Czech Republic. She was supervised by Dr. Cyril Barinka during the 5-week summer program.


  • Jiana Baker presenting her research at the HCOP poster session.
    Jiana Baker '20 (CLAS)

Galaxy Community Conference-Bioinformatics Open Source Conference – June 25-30, 2018 – Portland, OR

Peter Richter ’19 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Collecting Data for Association Genetics: Tripal Plant PopGen Submit Pipeline

American Society of Animal Science – Canadian Society of Animal Science Annual Meeting and Trade Show – July 8-12, 2018 – Vancouver, British Columbia

Lauren Engels ’19 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel recipient
The Effects of Poor Maternal Nutrition on Fetal Brain Development

Helenrose Iannitti ’19 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel recipient
Effects of Poor Maternal Nutrition during Gestation on Oxidative Stress in Offspring Muscle

Veronica Pleasant ’19 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel recipient
The Effects of Maternal Milk Production on Dairy Calf Growth and Health

SACNAS 2018 – The National Diversity in STEM Conference – October 11-13, 2018 – San Antonio, TX

Vinayak Mishra ’21 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Cellular Response to Biodegradable Stent in Vascular Bioreactor

Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting – October 17-20, 2018 – Atlanta, GA

Amanda Johnson ’19 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Assembly of Compact Neurostimulator Circuit Board for Neuroprosthetic Applications

Alexandra Liberti ’19 (ENG) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Characterization of Tissue Response in Rodent Spinal Cords by Immunofluorescence Staining

Fawaz Mohsin ’21 (ENG & BUS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Vascular Laser Thermolysis of Blood Vessels Varying in Size

Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Annual Meeting – November 3-7, 2018 – San Diego, CA 

Skyler Sklenarik ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Behavioral Biases in People at Risk for Problematic Gambling and Pornography Use

Nathalia Hernandez ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Observational Learning in Rats: Effects of Number and Quality of Observations

Kyrstyn Jenkins ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Evaluating Mechanisms of Reward Enhancement by Nicotine in Humans

National Council of Family Relations Annual Conference – November 7-10 – San Diego, CA

Kalea Coles ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Child Birth Weight and Reading Skills: A Moderation by Race

SENTAC Conference – November 30-December 2, 2018 – Houston, TX

Anika Makol ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Pediatric Nasal Burns During Operative Cautery; Are Aural Speculums More Protective than Nasal Speculums? – A Retrospective Chart Review

• SURF 2019: Program Updates

SURF logoWith the SURF 2019 application cycle underway, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight some updates and changes to this year’s 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.

Updates for 2019

New Application Management System

We are using the UConn Quest Portal, a new application management system powered by SurveyMonkey Apply, to collect, process, and review SURF applications for summer 2019. This new system will allow 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. As before, 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 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.

SURF Mailing List. Students planning to apply for SURF can sign up for the SURF Mailing List to receive helpful application tips via email.

We look forward to another excellent set of SURF applications this year! The application deadline is Monday, February 4, 2019. 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 1/22, 1/25, and 1/28. Full detail about times and location can be found in the sidebar on the main SURF webpage.

Photos of SURF recipients

• Deadlines Approaching for Summer 2019 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 late January and early February deadlines.

NORC Summer Intern Program – University of Chicago
Deadline: January 18, 2019
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 25, 2019
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 30, 2019
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. $5,000 stipend and housing provided.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP)
Deadline: January 31, 2019
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 $4,000 and housing provided.

Summer Internships in Science and Technology (SIST) – Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
Deadline: February 1, 2019
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.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program – Gerstner Sloan Kettering
Deadline: February 1, 2019
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.

SAO REU Summer Intern Program (contingent on funding by NSF)
Deadline: February 1, 2019

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.

Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Deadline: February 1, 2019
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.

NSF-REU Internships in Astronomy – Maria Mitchell Observatory
Deadline: February 1, 2019
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.

REU Program in Solar and Space Physics – University of Colorado Boulder
Deadline: February 4, 2019
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.

Undergraduate Summer Fellowship Program in Vision Science, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester
Deadline: February 4, 2019
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. $4,000 stipend and on-campus housing provided.

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) Summer Scholars Program
Deadline: February 4, 2019

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 Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Stanford University and Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Full descriptions of each research project can be found at the website link above.

• Apply Now for Summer 2019 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, 2018; Letters of Reference are due by December 22,
 2018; https://www.daad.de/rise/en/
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, 2018 and December 15, 2018. Student application materials must be submitted by December 15, 2018, with letters of reference due December 22, 2018.

Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship Program (MLEF)
Deadline: December 17, 2018; http://orise.orau.gov/mlef/
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.

Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SNURF) – University of Vermont
Deadline: January 6, 2019; https://www.med.uvm.edu/neuro/snurf
Two summer research programs will be hosted by the University of Vermont’s Department of Neurological Sciences. One is funded by NSF and the other by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Both offer generous stipends and housing. Interested students may apply to only one of the two programs. Details available on the website.

Summer Research Experience Program in Cancer Science – Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Deadline: January 10, 2019; 
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.

Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI)
Deadline: January 10, 2019; https://science.energy.gov/wdts/suli/
The Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program encourages undergraduate students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers by providing research experiences at one of 17 participating Department of Energy laboratories.

Cold Spring Harbor Undergraduate Summer Research Program 2019
Deadline: January 15, 2019; https://www.cshl.edu/education/undergraduate-research-program
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, 2019; http://thinkswiss.tumblr.com/About
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 $1,600 is provided for a period of 2-3 months.

Summer ORISE Fellowship Opportunities at the CDC
Deadline: January 18, 2019; http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/dls/orise.html
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.

Arecibo Observatory REU Summer Program
Deadline: January 25, 2019 (online application); February 1, 2019 (supporting documents); http://outreach.naic.edu/ao/reut
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 2019. Strong candidates will be students majoring in astronomy, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Stipend of $450 per week.

Summer Public Health Scholars Program (SPHSP) – Columbia University
Deadline: January 31, 2019; http://ps.columbia.edu/education/student-life/office-diversity/programs/college-and-post-baccalaureate-students/summer-publ
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. Approximately 40 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, 2019; 
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.

• Student Accomplishments – May 2018


Please join us in congratulating the UConn undergraduates named below for their significant research and creative accomplishments in spring 2018. Students: if you have an accomplishment to share, please do so using this online form.


Congratulations to Colby Buehler ’18 (ENG), Sydney Carr ’18 (CLAS), Vince Pistritto ’18 (CLAS, SFA), and Daniel Wackelin ’18 (ENG), the undergraduate recipients of 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships! They are among the 12 UConn students and alumni who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships this year. Three other talented undergraduate researchers, Amy Robinson ’18 (ENG), Nicholas Russo ’18 (CLAS), and Nicholas Oliveira ’18 (ENG) received Honorable Mention recognition.

Naseem Sardashti ’18 (ENG), an undergraduate research in the Health Research Program working under the guidance of Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar, was awarded 3rd place at the 2018 Northeast Bioengineering Conference for her and her team’s work on the synthesis of hybrid skin models for product evaluation.


Jamasia Williams ’20 (CLAS), a participant in the Work-Study Research Assistant Program, was a co-author on a recent publication based on research conducted with Dr. Molly Waring:

Waring, M.E., Jake-Schoffman, D.E., Holovatska, M.M., Mejia, C., Williams, J.C., & Pagoto, S.L.(2018). Social media and obesity in adults: a review of recent research and future directions. Current Diabetes Reports, 18:34. doi.org/10.1007/s11892-018-1001-9.



Spring 2018 included a series of art exhibitions and screenings by the following undergraduate students:

Matthew Bilmes ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Exit: A Short Film

Kiana Cao ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
An Examination of Immigration: A look into Buddhism, Community & Refugees

Yanlin (Eva) Hu ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
CHU: A Solo Exhibition of Ceramic Sculpture

James Keth ’19 (SFA, CLAS) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
The Khmer – A Personal Journey: On being Cambodian American

Austin MacDonald ’18 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient & UConn Co-op Legacy Fellow
Prodigal: The Sentinel’s Garden

Emy Regan ’19 (SFA) – UConn IDEA Grant recipient
Clementine: The Adventures at Foxhead Manor

  • Exit Film Screening Promo Image


Joint Mathematics Meetings – January 10-13, 2018 – San Diego, CA

Rajeshwari Majumdar ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Applications of Multiplicative LLN and CLT for Random Matrices

Anthony Sisti ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Black-Scholes Using The Central Limit Theorem

Plant and Animal Genome XXVI Conference – January 13-17, 2018 – San Diego, CA

Madison Caballero ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Designing a Genotyping Array for Genomic Selection in Loblolly Pine

Alexander Trouern-Trend ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Comparative Genomics of the Juglandacea

Maria Antony
Maria Antony ’19 (CLAS, CAHNR)

Conference on Electronic and Advanced Materials – January 17-19, 2018 – Orlando, FL

Hope Whitelock ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Real Nanoparticles Have Curves: Exploring the Polar Phase Transition Topology in Superellipsoidal Nanoparticles

International Stroke Conference – January 23-26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA 

Maria Antony ’19 (CLAS, CAHNR) – ISC Junior Investigator Travel Award recipient
Oral presentation: Restoration of MiRNA MiR-181c-5p–Rescue From the Detrimental Effect of Social Isolation in the Mice Subjected to Ischemic Stroke 

Ocean Sciences Meeting – February 11-16, 2018 – Portland, OR

Jessica Hinckley presenting her research poster.
Jessica Hinckley ’19 (CLAS)

Jessica Hinckley ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Investigating Dissolved Gas Concentrations and Alkalinity in a Long Island Sound Time Series

International Neuropsychological Society Conference – February 14-17, 2018 – Washington, DC

Debra Tomasino ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Informant Report of Cognitive Functioning in Geriatric Depression: Correlates with Objective Cognitive Tests and Structural Imaging

Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting – February 22-25, 2018, Baltimore, MD 

Caroline Brooks ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient

Caroline Brooks
Caroline Brooks ’18 (CLAS)
Savannah-Nicole Villalba presenting her poster.
Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS)

Cross Sectional Time Series Analysis on the Impacts of Race on Homeownership

Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS)
A Healthy Food Inventory of Waterbury, CT

Eastern Psychological Association Meeting – March 1-3, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA 

Allison Arnista ’18 (CLAS) & Kyrstyn Jenkins ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Evaluating Mechanisms of Reward Enhancement by Nicotine in Humans

Dilsara Liyanage
Dilsara Liyanage ’18 (CLAS)

Dilsara Liyanage ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
The EEG Mu Rhythm and Language Abilities in 18- and 24-Month-Olds

Morgan Livingston ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Longitudinal Outcome of Attention Modification Training for Social Anxiety

Adam Mealy ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Longitudinal Stability of Hostile Attention Allocation, Attention Bias, and Hostility Symptoms

Michelle Padua ’18 (CLAS) & Skyler Sklenarik ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Behavioral Biases in People at Risk for Problematic Gambling

Eastern Society for Pediatric Research Annual Meeting – March 16-18, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA

Benjamin Redenti ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Risk Stratification System for Use in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) and Correlation with Adverse Events During Hospital Admissions

Margaux Verlaque-Amara ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Impact of State-By-State Adoption of Key Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Provisions on PED Patients

American Chemical Society National Meeting – March 18-22, 2018 – New Orleans, LA 

Caroline Anastasia ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Multicomponent Flexible Film of Organometallic Polymers with Polyimide as High k and Low Loss Dielectric

Northeast Writing Center Association Conference – March 24-25, 2018 – Worcester, MA

Joseph Greenwald ’18 (BUS), Daniel Johnson ’18 (CLAS), & Kaylee Thurlow ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Cracking the Code: A Method for Designing and Implementing a Writing Center Honor Code

Odia Kane ’19 (CLAS) & Kharl Reynado ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Assessing Our Practice: A Writing Center Fellow-To-Fellow Support System

Kharl Reynado and Odia Kane presenting at NEWCA.
Odia Kane ’19 (CLAS) and Kharl Reynado ’19 (CLAS)

Anneliese Lapides ’20 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Reassessing Our Responses to the Everyday Language of Oppression

Sierra Rice ’18 (ED) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Hosting a Regional Middle and High School Conference: A Practical Model

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting – March 24-27, 2018 – Boston, MA

Roisin Healy ’19 (CLAS) & Jonathan Serino ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipients
Understanding “Thunder” is More Difficult than “Rainbow” when Performing a Concurrent Auditory Task

Northeast Bioengineering Conference – March 28-30, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA

Garrett Soler ’18 (ENG)
An Economical & Ergonomic Hydrocephalus Software System

New England Science Symposium – April 8, 2018 – Boston, MA

Brian Aguilera ’19 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
CD13 Promotes Tunneling Nanotube Formation and Cell-cell Communication in Human Endothelial Cells and Mouse Primary Macrophages

Eastern Nursing Research Society Annual Scientific Sessions – April 11-13, 2018 – Newark, NJ

Courtney Lopiano ’18 (NUR)
A Battle on Opiates: The NICU Nurse’s Perspective on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting – April 20, 2018 – Hartford, CT

Kayla Hope presenting her research poster.
Kayla Hope ’18 (CAHNR)

Kayla Hope ’18 (CAHNR) – OUR Travel Award recipient
What Type 1 Diabetes Nutrition Advice is Being Shared on Twitter and Who is Sharing It?

Experimental Biology Conference – April 21-25, 2018 – San Diego, CA

Jordyn Dickey ’18 (CLAS) – OUR Travel Award recipient
Analysis of Physiology and Neurobiology (PNB) 2265 Course Redesign


• 2018 Mentorship Excellence Awards


In recognition of the pivotal role that mentors play in supporting undergraduate research and creative activity, the Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the recipents of the 2018 Mentorship Excellence Awards. These awards recognize two faculty members – one in a STEM field, and one in a non-STEM field – and one graduate student who exemplify the ways in which outstanding mentors challenge and support their students, enabling them to take intellectual risks and achieve milestones they might not have initially envisioned being able to reach.

The 2018 Mentorship Excellence Awards were presented to Andrea Voyer, Nicholas Eddy, and Laura Mickelsen during the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Friday, April 13, 2018.

Andrea Voyer, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Professor Voyer’s award was presented by Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Savannah-Nicole’s presentation remarks.

Savannah-Nicole Villalba presents plaque to awardee Andrea Voyer.
Savannah-Nicole Villalba ’18 (CLAS) presents the award to her mentor, Professor Andrea Voyer.

I had Dr. Voyer for one of the required classes for our major, social theory. Dr. Voyer gracefully worked us through the dense theories of 19th century sociologists. It was my first time engaging with sociological theory, and many of us were struggling to understand the concepts. Dr. Voyer was patient with us as we tried to make connections to the material. She was encouraging so that we weren’t afraid of being wrong, and was personable in a way that encouraged students to work harder.

This mentality was one that she brought with her when we began the IDEA Grant application process. When we started discussing the possibility of applying, she did not bring me in to work on something she was interested in. In our first meeting, she asked me what I was passionate about and I could tell she genuinely cared. Dr. Voyer was the first person to believe in my passions and to tell me that my research questions were valid. We spent months working on the application process, and when the grant was approved, I knew it would not have been possible without her guidance.

With her own incredible research and personal life, she has always been accessible to discuss the newest challenge I faced. Instead of just providing answers, she would offer suggestions on ways to problem solve to reach reasonable solutions. Even though Dr. Voyer has been away this school year, she has helped me apply (and be accepted) to graduate school, supported (and protected) me at my first research conference, and has shown me what an academic mentor should be.

Nicholas Eddy, Assistant Professor in Residence, Chemistry
Professor Eddy’s award was presented by Pranjali Ichalkaranje ’18 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Pranjali’s presentation remarks.

Pranjali Ichalkaranje presents plaque to awardee Nicholas Eddy.
Pranjali Ichalkaranje ’18 (CLAS) presents the award to her mentor, Professor Nicholas Eddy.

Research with Dr. Eddy has been the most rewarding experience I could have wished for as an undergraduate. I was able to grow tremendously by obtaining knowledge and skills applicable not only in research but also other aspects of life. In terms of research, teaching an undergraduate student with experience in life sciences but limited knowledge in Organic Chemistry was a challenging task that Dr. Eddy took on with no hesitation.

I was challenged each day, whether it was mixing a solution or reading articles with little background on the material. He was not afraid to hold me to a higher standard and push me beyond my limits, allowing me to put classroom knowledge into practice and increase my critical thinking and problem solving skills. He encouraged me to read, write, ask questions, and – most importantly – make mistakes. Though I made more than he agrees to, he offered reassuring and constructive feedback each time. Most importantly, he made sure I had everything I needed to succeed in anything I put my mind to – a role he took on as my mentor.

My research experience opened my eyes to career opportunities in research and medicine. I have been able to grow immensely as a scientist, researcher, student, writer, teacher and an overall individual.

Dr. Eddy represents the diligence, passion and commitment that students, scientists and teachers need on a daily basis. He puts his students, researchers and colleagues before himself. He is the highlight of the students’ day, and a source of comfort for many as they embark on their undergraduate experience.

Laura Mickelsen, Ph.D. Candidate, Physiology and Neurobiology, Jackson Laboratory
Laura was presented with her award by Eric Beltrami ’19 (CLAS) and Jacob Naparstek ’18 (CLAS), two of the undergraduate researchers who work under her supervision in the Jackson lab. The following text is excerpted from Eric’s presentation remarks.

Photo of James Costanzo, Jacob Naparstek, awardee Laura Mickelsen, Eric Beltrami, and Alexander Jackson.
Award winner Laura Mickelsen, center, is pictured with undergraduate researchers James Costanzo, Jacob Naparstek, and Eric Beltrami, as well as Professor Alexander Jackson.

Laura is an incredible scientist and speaker, and she has made an effort to help develop those skills in us. She challenges us to explain our projects and try to troubleshoot our setbacks independently so that when we present our work we are prepared to take ownership of what we did and understand the scientific process behind it thoroughly.

Laura’s exceptional mentorship is not limited to guidance in our research projects. Laura has fostered a family of people who deeply care about one another… and the lateral hypothalamus. Laura makes coming to lab not only incredibly productive but also fun. With her effortless humor and kind heart she has made lab somewhere we look forward to going every day. She never hesitates to make sure we are keeping up in our courses and ask us about our extracurricular involvement. It is clear to us that she cares about our personal lives and is always there to provide us guidance in our daily life and about our career goals. I can honestly say that Laura’s mentorship was a major factor in my decision to pursue a career in which I can make research a part of my life.

Laura, whatever path you take on your journey to success will be an amazing and rewarding one because of your incredible dedication and love for what you do. I am constantly inspired by your personal drive and ability to master such a diverse set of skills. James, Jake and I cannot thank you enough for everything.

Congratulations to the 2018 award recipients! The Office of Undergraduate Research thanks the undergraduate students who nominated their faculty and graduate student mentors as well as the Peer Research Ambassadors who served on this year’s selection committee.