The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program is a wonderful opportunity to spend time conducting impactful research at different institutions across the nation. Projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the program. The National Science Foundation supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research it funds, and offers a large searchable database of over 700 programs across over that students may apply to, found here.
Many members of BMES have participated in research experiences across the country and are another valuable resource for finding programs to apply to. A few have shared their experiences below. They would love to engage with members interested in applying to similar programs, so feel free to contact them with any inquiries!
Over the summer of 2018, I conducted research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The program offered students positions in labs within the Mayo Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, with focuses ranging from immunology to cell and tissue engineering, imaging, and more. Labs were closely linked to the wide patient network at Mayo for both data collection and experimental studies, so there was a very strong clinical interface; the program is ideal for those looking to obtain either a PhD or an MD PhD. My lab focused on the imaging of microvasculature in thyroid nodules using ultrasound and Doppler recordings for the diagnosis of tumor malignancy. My project was very self-directed, and I was able to present my findings at a large symposium held on the campus at the end of the summer. Overall, the program helped me create a wonderful network of researchers, learn about the frontiers of biomedical research through weekly seminars, and meet many new people with an equal passion for research within my cohort.
Bioengineering Class of 2019
The summer after my sophomore year (Summer 2017), I participated in a the Leah-Menshouse Springer Summer Opportunities Program at Washington University in St. Louis. This program is through the Siteman Cancer Center at the medical school, and the research projects spanned all the way from basic science to clinical research. I was in a biomedical engineering lab designing and purifying proteins to understand their role in cancer cell signaling. This program included both undergraduates and medical students, which was pretty unique. We also toured many clinical facilities, so I would recommend this to those considering an MD/PhD or an MD as well as those interested in graduate school. We were in charge of finding our own housing, but the stipend was generous and it was no problem through WashU subletting groups.
Bioengineering Class of 2020
This past summer I conducted research through Stanford’s SSRP-Amgen Scholars Program. My project focused on developing a microfluidic system for the growth and study of gastric tumor organoids from a single cell. I worked full-time in lab, met weekly with my grad student mentor to craft my presentation skills and materials for grad school applications, attended workshops, and went on fun weekend trips with my cohort. The most beneficial part of the program was learning strategies to effectively communicate my research to a broad audience. Biomedical research lets you do a lot of cool things, but the impact of your work is limited if few can make sense of it.
Bioengineering Class of 2019
I participated in the Mayo Clinic SURF program after my sophomore year as a student researcher in the Neuroscience track. Unlike most SURF students that are in Rochester, MN, I spent the summer in Jacksonville, FL, since FL is where the majority of Mayo's neuroscience research is localized. My project entailed exploring how modulating a signaling pathway in cellular models for alpha-synuclein aggregation in Parkinson’s Disease affected cellular outcomes. Although I was advised by a mentor, I had the scientific freedom to develop and test my own experiments, which served as an incredible learning experience. Outside of the lab itself, the SURF program provided weekly seminars, extracurricular courses (i.e. on immunology or nephrology), and social opportunities to expose students to other types of cutting-edge research and connect them to their peers. I gave an oral presentation of my work at the end of the summer, and was able to present a poster at the 2017 BMES Annual Meeting. All in all, a terrific experience for anybody interested in conducting translational research.
Bioengineering Class of 2019
I participated in the Sens Research Foundation Summer Scholars Program this past summer after my junior year as a student researcher in a lab at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. Unlike most other REU programs, the SRF Summer Scholars Program is decentralized; instead of having students congregate at a single institution, the program places them with labs at research institutions across the US (i.e. Stanford University, Scripps Research Institute, Buck Institute for Aging, UC-Berkeley, Harvard Med School) and outside the US at Oxford University. In my lab, I was placed under the mentorship of a neurosurgeon who was a postdoc in the lab and worked alongside him on his project in the lab; namely, we were engineering tumor cells to act as receptor-based antitumor therapeutic vectors. Also, in contrast to most other REU programs that are 10 weeks in length, this REU was 12 weeks long. Instead of having students present their research at their separate institutions, the program brought us to San Diego in early October to attend the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa and collectively present our work with long oral presentations. This REU was definitely more challenging than my experience with the Mayo Clinic SURF program, so I’d recommend it for people with some research experience under their belt.
Have you participated in a summer research program and want to share your experience with other members of BMES? Contact Noshin Nawar at firstname.lastname@example.org
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