Finding a Mentor
Finding a faculty mentor is an important step in the program. Students should consider their interest and future career goals. A list of potential faculty mentors that are interested and willing to have a summer scholars student in their laboratory are listed in the link below. Faculty are best contacted by the email provided.
Unless additional funds are available only one student per faculty mentor will be considered for the program.
Former Summer Scholars are an important source of information on what to expect and can help provide information regarding selecting a mentor that will best suit your interest.
Potential Mentors: Comparative Biomedical Sciences
We investigate changes in neuroendocrine development and behavior in response to exposure to environmental contaminants and try to identify the cellular and molecular alterations behind these organismal changes. Our investigations utilize zebrafish as a model organism and a wide range of molecular biology, transgenesis, microscopy, and analytical tools.
Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) are major problems in our society today, and there is a great need for better therapies. Repeated substance and alcohol use causes neuroplastic adaptations in the brain through molecular mechanisms. These changes lead to cravings, increased motivation to take the drug, and can cause relapse during times of abstinence. I have studied these lasting effects of abused drugs on the brain since 2009. Almost all of my research experiences have focused on neuroplastic molecular mechanisms that underlie drug-induced behavioral changes in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain area in the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway vital for reward, stress, and anxiety. I employ cutting-edge viral and chemical tools to manipulate molecular pathways to reverse or mimic drug/alcohol-induced changes in NAc and study their behavioral relevance. The Anderson Lab aims to discover novel, translational treatments for SUDs and AUDs that are capable of reducing drug use by reversing neuroplastic adaptations that occur following chronic use.
My research investigates mechanisms of natural and pathological bone formation in soft tissues of vertebrates, especially skin and connective tissue. Alligators naturally develop bone in the dermis of some scales, and this process is histologically similar to the formation of bony lesions in a broad spectrum of disorders called heterotopic ossification, which affects humans and some domestic animals. Alligators are not only good natural models for investigating different types of HO disorders, but also provide insight into the evolutionary history of dermal armor in ancient vertebrates such as dinosaurs.
My research interest is on understanding the role played by central nervous system cytokines in the pathophysiology of heart failure, hypertension, and renal diseases. In the last decade, I have started working on inflammatory molecules in the brain in post-traumatic stress disorder. More recently, my interest has shifted to understanding plant-based therapies in modulating cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. I use pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention including blueberries in my research.
DNA damage repair and mutagenesis. We primarily use yeast (S. cerevisiae) as a model
organism to elucidate mechanisms of DNA damage repair and how DNA mutations are
My research program is aimed at understanding the epigenetic mechanisms that control developmental changes in susceptibility to neurological and metabolic disorders, as well as disease prevention. Epigenetic mechanisms refer to the molecular processes that regulate gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. Our research is focused on exploring the specific role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in epigenetic regulation. MiRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules that work as master regulators of gene expression by binding to the mRNA of target genes and inhibiting their translation. This post-transcriptional regulation by miRNAs is crucial for many biological processes, including development, differentiation, and disease. Our research examines the epigenetic effects that ancestral Western diet and exercise have on the offspring's vulnerability to neurological and metabolic disorders.
To understand how epigenetic changes affect susceptibility to neurodegeneration and metabolic dysfunction, we employ translational, genomic, and proteomic techniques. In addition, we make use of genetically modified Drosophila and mouse models.
Our goal is to gain a better understanding of the complex interplay between miRNAs and epigenetic mechanisms and how these processes contribute to normal cellular function and disease pathogenesis. We anticipate that this investigation will provide insight into the fundamental functions of these molecular mechanisms and their potential as therapeutic targets.
Dr. Noël’s lab seeks to investigate the fundamental mechanisms at the epigenetic, molecular and cellular levels that underlie the developmental origins of health and disease, with respect to respiratory effects caused by distinct emerging inhaled environmental pollutants. This includes the study of engineered nanoparticles, cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke, electronic-cigarette aerosols, and hookah smoke, using both in vitro and in vivo models.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are vital cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs) are the most studied and used MSCs. Primary BMSCs possess robust differentiation capability, which is valuable for treating diseases and injuries. Our preliminary studies have discovered several candidate genes that control the differentiation potential of the BMSCs. This summer research project will test the effects of these genes on osteogenic differentiation (osteo-differentiation) and bone regeneration capabilities of BMSCs using in vitro 3D cell culture and in vivo animal study in conjunction with 3D printing.
Potential Mentors: Pathobiological Sciences
The overall goal of our research is to explore the mechanisms by which inflammatory
cells of the innate immune system control bacterial infection. Further, we aim to
understand how certain pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA)
evade robust inflammatory responses to establish infection and cause disease. We employ
fluorescence microscopy, biochemical and cell biology approaches to interrogate the
importance of cellular stress responses in host defenses and inflammation. We have
demonstrated that the endoplasmic reticulum stress sensor, IRE1, is essential for
innate immune defenses against MRSA both in vitro and in vivo . We found that IRE1
macrophage bactericidal activity by concentrating mitochondrial payloads, such as reactive oxygen species, into phagosomes via generation of mitochondria-derived vesicles. We recently extended our studies to show that IRE1 controls neutrophil effector function, including generation of antimicrobial extracellular traps (NETs) in primary human cells and in murine subcutaneous abscesses during MRSA infection. While ER stress responses and IRE1 activation occur in the lung during infection and the development of pulmonary fibrosis, its role in pulmonary host defense is ill-defined. Therefore, we aim to highlight the importance of IRE1-mediated inflammation in progression and resolution of pulmonary infections.
Staphylococcus aureus can infect every niche of the human host, is the leading cause of Gram-positive sepsis, and causes over 900,000 severe infections annually in the United States. Additionally, 10 % of S. aureus infections are caused by stains resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Our lab furthers the knowledge of how the host kills S. aureus and how S. aureus avoids killing by the host. Specifically, we are focused on the role of protein post-translational modifications at the host-pathogen interface. Through multiple projects that use aspects of analytical chemistry, bacteriology, bacterial pathogenesis, and chemical biology, both in vitro and in vivo , we seek to identify and validate S. aureus therapeutic weaknesses for targeting by the next generation of antimicrobials. If any of these research areas sound interesting, please contact me.
Dr. Guerrero-Plata’s research interests are in the field of viral immunology focused
on innate immunity, dendritic cells and respiratory viruses. Her work includes the
study of the
immune response to respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus, the most important cause of lower respiratory tract infections in children, elderly and immunocompromised patients. The long-term goal of her research is to develop new strategies to boost antiviral immunity and long-lasting protection against respiratory viral pathogens that cause significant airway morbidity. Additional studies in her laboratory are directed to determine the mechanisms by which environmental factors alter the frequency and severity of respiratory viral infections
The overall research goal of the Lung Biology Lab is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for neutrophil recruitment, priming, and activation in infected lungs, smoke-exposed lungs, and smoke-exposed lungs and organs followed by infection in the lungs and other organs/tissues. In particular, the Lung Biology Lab is interested in determining the role of pattern recognition receptors (TLRs and NLRs) and their adaptors with the development of the innate immune response in the lung in murine models. Multiple bacterial pathogens that are studied include: Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Legionella pneumophila, as causative pathogens of pneumonia. The lab also studies the pathogenesis of sepsis and aims to understand the molecular and cellular immunological mechanisms associated with sepsis. Of particular interest in the innate immune molecules, such as TLRs, NLRs and chemokines in the induction of sepsis.
My research interest is to investigate how proteins interact with one another to control life processes. In normal life processes, these protein interactions are well coordinated to perform the functions of the cells. Any deregulation of this process can lead to the development of many diseases. My research group is interested in developing drug-like molecules to modulate protein-protein interactions (PPI), and such molecules are useful as therapeutic agents. I use computational as well as experimental methods to investigate PPI and its inhibition. Nearly 85% of lung cancer patients have a type of cancer called non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Despite the development of targeted therapy using tyrosine kinase inhibitors, the five-year survival rate of NSCLC patients has not improved in more than a decade. I am interested in the design of stable peptides to target protein dimers. Multicyclic peptides with a disulfide bond, such as sunflower trypsin inhibitors, are known to have a stable structure that is resistant to thermal, chemical, and enzymatic degradation. These peptides can be grafted with functional groups that can inhibit protein-protein interactions. This project is supported by funding from NCI (5R01CA255176).
Virology and vaccinology, Immunotherapy for Cancer, and COVID-19 research
My lab focuses on understanding the role of cytomegalovirus in the pathogenesis of various cancers. We utilize recombinant murine cytomegalovirus and mouse models of metastatic breast cancer to address questions regarding the mechanism by which cytomegalovirus alters the tumor microenvironment to promote the angiogenesis and metastasis of the primary tumor in-vivo. Additionally, we are interested in ways to utilize viral gene products and the T cell expansion that occurs naturally during cytomegalovirus infection to develop the next generation of immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer.
Potential Mentors: Veterinary Clinical Sciences
We do equine research, gastric ulcers, endocrine disease, and clinical trials involving a variety of studies. We also perform general GI Studies.
Endocrinology: Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction in horses; Infectious disease: Salmonellosis in horses; Rhodococcus equi/hoagii in foals.
Our lab focuses on inflammatory conditions in the horse including laminits, sepsis/SIRS, wound healing and osteoarthritis. Pathophyisology and various therapies (including regenerative medicine) are evaluated for these conditions within the laboratory.
Research interests: animal osteopathy in general, future studies may be led on horses, dogs, mice, and goats. I have specific interests in the effects of treatment on the biomechanics, physiology, and animal behavior.
The study will depend on extramural funding possibilities.
My areas of research include veterinary anaphylaxis and coagulation. One project fit for a summer scholar is available to establish reference intervals for a modified use of a new benchtop coagulation device. The machine is normally used with fresh whole blood, which creates a very short time frame with which to run the sample. We will be using citrated blood (blue top tubes) to eliminate this issue, and we will attempt to establish reference intervals for this modification so results may be accurately interpreted.