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Summer undergraduate research students highlight collaboration, diversity at UMass Chan

Adrián Márquez Hernández, Catharine F. H. Wingle and Raheem S. Sheikh
Adrián Márquez Hernández, Catharine F. H. Wingle and Raheem S. Sheikh are members of the UMass Chan Summer Undergraduate Research Program Class of 2023.

Spending 10 weeks of their summer immersed in biomedical research at UMass Chan Medical School has helped define career perspectives for the 40 participants in the 2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Catharine F. H. Wingle, Adrián Márquez Hernández and Raheem S. Sheikh are high-achieving college undergraduates pursuing careers in medicine and science. Along with 37 other highly qualified college juniors and seniors from across the United States and Puerto Rico, they spent their summer in the cutting-edge laboratories of UMass Chan investigators.

For Wingle, Márquez Hernández and Sheikh, the program instilled in them self-confidence, an appreciation for a collaborative research environment and diverse learning community, and an understanding of the importance of communication and shared ideas.

Sheikh, a junior biological sciences major with a concentration in behavioral neurobiology at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College in New York said, “I've been lucky and privileged to meet so many diverse people from all over the country in this program. It was very nice to meet new people and become friends with a bunch of people with so many different perspectives.”

Sheikh, from Long Island, New York, said he’s dreamed of pursuing a medical degree, but after his research experiences in the lab of Joae Wu, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, he would like to follow a MD/PhD track.

“I've learned a lot about collaboration and communication skills at UMass Chan. Working alongside my PI and other interns has been especially beneficial for me. So that's something I hope to carry forward in my career,” Sheikh said.

The UMass Chan Medical School Summer Undergraduate Research Program is designed to diversify the pool of biomedical researchers by providing structured, hands-on laboratory research experiences to undergraduate students, especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in the field, or who are economically or educationally disadvantaged.

The program is sponsored by the UMass Chan Office of Outreach Programs and is funded by the National Institutes of Health and UMass Chan Provost’s Office Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

“This program is completely different from my previous experiences. My mentors really trusted me, and I learned so many new techniques so fast. This gave me a lot of self-confidence,” Wingle said.

Wingle spent the summer in the lab of Sumeda Nandadasa, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics. She is from Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania and is a senior at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia where she is a medical laboratory science major.

Like Sheikh, Wingle entered the program after changing majors and falling in love with bench work, and wanted to see if a PhD was the right path. Already instilled with a love for research at Thomas Jefferson University, her experience in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program has only solidified her goals and given her the confidence to continue pursuing a career in medicine and science.

“The biggest takeaway from the program for me was the confidence that I have gained throughout the summer,” Wingle said.

Márquez Hernández is a senior biology major at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. He’s hoping to pursue a PhD and is interested in gene therapy, aging and biochemistry. This summer is Márquez Hernández’s second summer participating in the undergraduate research program and he worked in the lab of Mary Munson, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular biotechnology.

“I already knew I wanted to pursue research, but being here for the last two summers made me realize what I want and what I don’t want in the future,” Márquez Hernández said. “This is a very collaborative place and a healthy environment for work. And that’s what I want to be part of in the future.”

Summer undergraduate researchers receive a $4,000 stipend. Travel and housing are paid for and arranged by the program with transportation provided to and from campus.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program Class of 2023

Summer Undergraduate Research Program Class of 2023

Georgiette Adejayan, University of Connecticut ‘24
Nicole Agwu, Boston University ‘24
MinJun Ahn, University of Massachusetts Amherst ‘25
Annika Bajaj, Amherst College ‘25
Melissa Ballin Cardona, Macalester College ‘25
Gabriel S.J. Barreto D’Silva, Wake Forest University ‘24
Samantha Belculfine, University of Massachusetts Amherst ‘23
Emma M. Boudreaux, University of Maine College of NSFA ‘25
Ashley Bradshaw, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ‘25
Kayla M. Carmona Swisher, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth ‘24
Gabriel E. Cruz Fernandez, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez ‘24
Grace H. Dodd, Wellesley College ‘25
Camryn L. Foster, Colgate University ‘25
Sammy D. Gomez Medina, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras ‘24
Adrian E. Gonzalez Santiago, University of Puerto Rico Cayey ‘24
Emma Hayes, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science ‘24
Mara K. Hon, Columbia University ‘25
Theodore Hsiao, University of Maryland College Park ‘25
Kyle Hur, Amherst College ‘25
Mohamed Ibrahim, Thomas Jefferson University ‘25
Bogdan Ivanov, Pennsylvania State University ‘24
Racheal Lefevre, Fitchburg State University ‘23
Melina Lian, University of Southern California ‘25
Karina J. Magnus, Columbia University ‘24
Adrian Márquez Hernández, University of Puerto Rico Cayey ‘24
Ana G. Marroquin Tercero, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona ‘24
Patricia Morales-Iglesias, University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras ‘24
Ndongwa Pemba, Agnes Scott College ‘25
David S. Pilson, Morehouse College ‘25
Nicolle Rodriguez, Dominican University ‘24
Sarah F. Rodriguez, University of Texas Austin ‘24
Rosmery Rosario Cueto, Universidad del Este ‘24
Jonathan P. Schowalter, University of New Orleans ‘25
Raheem S. Sheikh, CUNY Hunter College ‘25
Chelsey C. Southwell, Southwestern University ‘24
Varun Vardhan R. Tummalapalli, University of Southern California ‘25
Julie A. Vazquez Almodovar, Inter American University of Puerto Rico San German ‘25
Catharine F. H. Wingle, Thomas Jefferson University ‘24
Stanley S. Yuan, University of Massachusetts Amherst ‘26