Undergraduates SURF-ing on Upstate campus this summer

SUNY Upstate Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows listen to a presentation on brain imaging last week by Wendy Kates, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Photo by Rich Whelsky.

Eleven college students interested in biomedical science are spending the summer at Upstate through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.

The 10-week SURF program exposes college juniors to biomedical research and gives them the opportunity to formulate a proposal, carry out research under a faculty mentor, write a research paper and possibly have their work published.

Each fellow receives a $3,000 stipend and housing in Clark Tower. This summer’s program started June 10 and continues through August 16.

The students attend research seminars and participate in discussions on advancing their careers in the biomedical sciences.

“We’re exposed to research, read articles and do hands-on work that develops practical skills,” said Eric Semmel, a student at the University of Rochester. “We have a seminar each week with a different mentor, and we tour all the facilities on campus.”

SURF fellows also give presentations about their research, and take part in social events on and off campus. “Everyone’s friendly, open and willing to talk about their projects,” said Eric, whose mentor is Wendy Kates, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The SURF program has been a steady feeder for Upstate, as many former fellows have enrolled in the College of Graduate Studies after earning a bachelor’s degree.

“It definitely refined the skills I learned as an undergrad,” said Greg Goreczny, a 2011 SURF fellow who recently finished the first year of his PhD program at Upstate. “I was able to get the feel of a bigger lab, and how a lab is run at an academic medical center.”

Applicants to the SURF program must have a strong interest in pursuing a PhD in biomedical research. They must be in good academic standing, between their junior and senior years, and majoring in chemistry, biology or a related field. U.S. citizenship is not required.

This year’s SURF fellows and their undergraduate institution:

Ellen Confer, Lycoming College; Kathryn Dill, SUNY Cobleskill; Laura Duclos, SUNY Geneseo; Mengyang Li, Wheaton College; Reid McLean, Truman State; Ronald Miller, Binghamton University;

Kelsey Monteith, Syracuse University; Daniel Sawyer, Bard College at Simons Rock; Taylor Seacor, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania; Eric Semmel, University of Rochester; and Eric Zluhan, Maryville University.

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