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Undergrads gain research credentials at UMMS summer program

Academic health sciences center provides hands-on research opportunities

By Sandra Gray and Erin Ramirez

UMass Medical School Communications

August 14, 2014

The Combined Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity at UMass Medical School, now in its 22nd year, is designed to diversify the pool of biomedical researchers by providing structured, hands-on laboratory research experiences to undergraduate students from backgrounds under-represented in the field. The 25 members of the program’s class of 2014 completed their 10-week laboratory immersion with a poster session on July 31 and closing ceremonies on Aug. 1.

Distinguished scientist Victor Ambros, PhD, delivered the keynote address. Dr. Ambros, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences, professor of molecular medicine and co-director of the UMMS RNA Therapeutics Institute, is renowned for his discovery of the microRNA molecules that play a key role in controlling gene expression in natural processes and disease development.

Students received certificates of completion and awards for best posters following the lecture. For glimpses of students discussing their posters with faculty and postdoctoral mentors, and highlights of the closing ceremony, view the slideshow below.

  • The UMass Medical School Combined Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity class of 2014 posed for a group portrait before their poster presentations.
  • Nile McCullough (center), a junior at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, is pictured with (at right) postdoctoral fellow and poster judge Regino Mercado-Lubo, PhD.
  • Savannah State University junior Tiffany Villanueva confers with judge Zdenka Matijasevic, PhD, assistant professor of cell & developmental biology.
  • University of Maryland senior Phoebe Tsoi enthusiastically explains her research.
  • Lab host and Professor of Microbiology & Physiological Systems Jack Leonard, PhD, hears from Scripps College senior Kristen Keller.
  • Kellianne Alexander will graduate from UMass Boston next year.
  • City College of New York senior Latisha Elijio is pictured here with her laboratory host Andreas Bergmann, PhD, professor of cancer biology.
  • Victor Ambros, PhD, delivers the closing keynote as Summer Undergraduate Research Programs Co-Principal Investigator Brian Lewis, PhD, listens.
  • Tied in third place for best posters, University of Puerto Rico junior Lorein Moya Rodriguez and City College of New York senior Latisha Elijio are pictured with (from left) Dr. Lewis, Dr. Ambros and Principal Investigator Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD.
  • Also in a tie for second place were Wendy Du, a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, and UMass Amherst senior Elena Drews.
  • The award for best poster went to California State University Long Beach junior Rachel Flores.