HRP SU21-21: Research Opportunity with Dr. Wendy Mok

Project Mentor

Dr. Wendy Mok
Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description Our lab is interested in the problem of antibiotic treatment failure. In particular, we are investigating the survival strategies of bacterial persisters, which are rare cells within genetically clonal populations that can withstand lethal doses of antibiotics without acquiring mutations. Using microbiological, genetic, and analytical techniques, the student will explore the impact of environmental factors — including those stemming from microbe-microbe interactions — on the response and tolerance of Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus persisters to antibiotics targeting different cellular processes.
Project Direction This project will enable us to identify environmental conditions that impact the survival of bacteria following antibiotic treatment. During the academic year, the student will generate genetic mutants and use chemical inhibitors to determine how the bacteria’s response to environmental triggers affect antibiotic persistence.
Mentorship and Supervision The student will work directly with me and a graduate student/ postdoctoral fellow in our lab to learn the experimental techniques needed to execute the project. We will also train the student on data interpretation, analysis, and presentation. The student will meet with me on a weekly basis to discuss the project and career development. Additionally, our group meets weekly, where every member of the lab briefly provides an update of his/her project. This will give the student an opportunity to develop his/her communication and presentation skills in an informal setting. In the spring semester, the student will have an opportunity to participate in and present his/her work at a regional microbiology meeting (e.g., Pioneer Valley Microbiology Symposium or Boston Bacterial Meeting).
Student Qualifications Candidates should demonstrate an interest in scientific research, an enthusiasm for learning new techniques, and attention to details. Basic knowledge of molecular biology and microbiology is preferred. Upon joining our lab, we will train the selected student on the techniques needed to complete the project.
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 24 to July 30, 2021, with the possibility of a more extended schedule by arrangement
Schedule: M-F, 9am-5pm
Project Continuation Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Academic Year Time Commitment 6 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, February 1, 2021.

This application requires a cover letter, a resume or CV, and an unofficial transcript.