Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program closes on a high note Three fellows shine as poster presentation winners
By Mark L. Shelton UMass Medical School Communications
SURF poster presentation winners Elizabeth Bosworth of South Dakota State University, Leslie Guadron of CUNY City College of New York and Nikki Rossetti of Wellesley College, pictured with SURF laboratory host and closing ceremony keynote speaker José Lemos, PhD (left) and SURF co-directors Janet Stein, PhD, and Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD(far right).
A unique journey to scienceIn addition to being a top scientist and a great teacher, the keynote speaker for the closing ceremonies of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program has to be willing to tell a story; as Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD, vice provost for School Services at UMMS and co-director, with Janet Stein, PhD, professor of cell biology, of the SURF said in her introduction, “We not only ask the keynote speakers to talk about a passion for science, but also to tell us how they got to this place; there are many different paths on the journey to science.”
The 2011 keynote speaker, José Lemos, PhD, was by this standard a perfect choice. Addressing an audience of faculty colleagues, summer project mentors, grad students, poster judges, well-wishers and front and center, the thirty-two Fellows, Lemos wove an entertaining tale that began in Cuba, where a young Lemos appeared in commercials for a popular soft drink (his father was head of the company), progressed to California, where he studied psychology at Occidental College and ”became interested in science because I was interested in human behavior,” detoured to Spain, where his encounters with the science and art of 1906 Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramon y Cajal made him realize that “the way to study human behavior was to study the brain.”
By the time Lemos received his doctorate in psychobiology at Wesleyan University, he was committed to understanding the reward pathway and the process of addiction—research informed by his keen observation of human behavior.
The closing ceremony tradition of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF) gives the students a chance to take a breath after intensive work in research labs across more than a dozen departments and programs, lectures and seminars from faculty and post docs and more than a little racing the clock to finish experiments. Students this year were selected from a pool of 600 applications (the SURF website had more than 50,000 visits during the application period) by students at more than 250 colleges and universities in the U.S., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Students are supported by the NIH and UMMS, and this year, two fellows were supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which places students in labs of HHMI Investigators in a highly competitive adjunct to the UMMS programs.
One of the highlights of the closing ceremony was the announcement of awards for the poster presentations by each fellow. As determined by a faculty committee, the first place poster was by Nikki Rossetti, a Wellesley College student and Framingham native who worked in the lab of Jeffrey Nickerson, PhD, associate professor of cell biology; second place went to Leslie Guardron, a student at CUNY City College of New York who worked with Mary Munson, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; and third place to Elizabeth Bosworth, a South Dakota State University junior who worked with the closing ceremony keynote speaker José Lemos, PhD, professor of microbiology & physiological systems and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology.