During the summer of 2015, twelve undergraduates from the University of Chicago will gain substantive, project-based professional research experience at the Marine Biological Laboratory through the MBL/Jeff Metcalf Summer for Undergraduate Research Fellows program (SURF). The goal of the SURF Program is to introduce students to scientific research under the guidance and direction of MBL’s leading scientists.
“The Metcalf SURF Program represents the best of the MBL/UC partnership as it reflects the enthusiasm of both institutions for research and educational advancement,” says Beth Simmons, MBL-University of Chicago Assistant Director for Education Programs.
Reflective of the program’s past success, this year saw an increase in the number of applications from first to fourth-year students whom expressed interest in a variety of research areas including medicine, developmental biology, genetic diseases, neurology and immunology, oceanography, and ecology.
The twelve-week program encourages students to initiate a project proposal which couples the student with an MBL faculty scientist whose expertise mirrors the student’s research interests and career goals. Each advising scientist mentors and guides the student toward successful project completion. Student experiences vary with each discipline, providing both hands-on field and laboratory-based training in an effort to allow a comprehensive research experience.
The Program is enriched by weekly lunch-seminars with MBL faculty, networking opportunities with other undergraduates on campus, evening lectures, and a variety of cultural and social activities throughout the summer. Additional professional development series workshops are also offered to assist in navigating career and graduate school admissions processes.
SURF students culminate their experience with an undergraduate student symposium through which they have the opportunity to present their projects to their peers and the MBL community prior to submission of a final paper detailing the project, its goals and related successes.
The 2015 Metcalf SURF students are:
“Optimizing the Performance of an Algae-to-Methane Coupled Bioreactor System Through Experimental and Modeling Approaches”
Mentors: Zoe Cardon /Joe Vallino, Ecosystems Center
“Atmospheric Delivery of Nitrogen to Ecosystem as a Stimulant of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)”
Mentor: Ivan Valiela, Ecosystems Center
“Microbial Influence on the Transformation of Ferrous and Ferric Iron in Siders Pond”
Mentors: Julie Huber, Bay Paul Center / Joe Vallino, Ecosystems Center
“Zebrafish Cytoskeleton Architecture: Actin Filaments and Reconstruction”
Mentor: Jonathan Gitlin, Bell Center
“Impact of Soil Nitrogen Levels on Species Diversity in Northeastern Grasslands and the Role of Grazing in Mediating the Nitrogen-Diversity Relationship”
Mentor: Chris Neill, Ecosystems Center
“Examining Chlorophyll Fluorescence and Spectral Signals to Understand Ecosystem Functions and Plant Physiology in a Temperate Forest”
Mentor: Jim Tang, Ecosystem Center
“Visual Function in Pupil Shape in Skates”
Mentor: Lydia Mathger, Bell Center
“Phosphorous Phase Associations as Indicators for Particle Cycling in the Water Column”
Mentor: Maureen Conte, Ecosystems Center
“Shifting Perspectives: Quantifying Color Camouflage by Flounder in the Eyes of Different Predators”
Mentor: Roger Hanlon, Bell Center
“Parkinson Disease Synoptic Nerves in Lamprey”
Mentor: Jennifer Morgan, Bell Center
“Lifestyles and Hosts of Unknown Acidophilic Legionella in the Rio Tinto”
Mentor: Linda Zettler, Bay Paul Center