Peer Research Ambassador Sarah Robbins

Sarah Robbins

My undergraduate research began in the fall of my sophomore year when I joined Dr. Paulo Verardi’s molecular virology lab in the Pathobiology and Veterinary Science department. The Verardi lab primarily focuses on the use of vaccinia virus, the live-virus in the smallpox vaccine, as a viral vector for vaccine development. I am working on the generation of tetracycline-inducible Wyeth and Copenhagen vaccinia virus strains. These replication-inducible vaccinia viruses will allow for the rapid generation of recombinant viruses for future vaccine development, which currently includes a potential Zika virus vaccine. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities provided by the UConn Office of Undergraduate Research, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF 2016) award.

The UConn SURF Award allowed me to research full time for 10 weeks during the summer on an independent project. It provided me with greater insight into the process of writing proposals and designing experiments. I sharpened my investigative skills, and I also learned many laboratory techniques and practices not taught in the classroom. In Summer 2017 I participated in an off-campus SURF program in Dr. Matthew Pipkin’s immunology laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida. I worked with in vivo models and RNAi silencing systems to identify transcription factors that function in CD8+ T cell development.  This internship provided me with experience in basic mechanism immunology and insight into working in a research institute environment.

My experience in undergraduate research has not only had a profound impact on my college career but also on my future. It has solidified my interest in pursuing graduate school, specifically in virology. I encourage everyone to find their passion through exploring the wide variety of research opportunities UConn has to offer. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have!

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