Navigation Links
UH students spent summer making a difference with hands-on research
Date:8/10/2012

HOUSTON, Aug. 9, 2012 Students from a variety of majors devoted their time to serious research at the University of Houston (UH) this summer, delving into a number of complex projects during an intensive 10-week program.

With a record number of 56 participants this year, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program is open to UH undergraduates from all colleges and disciplines. SURF provides students with a concentrated, full-time research experience under the mentorship of faculty members, with each student receiving a $3,500 stipend.

"I hope that in the future this work will be one more step in the fight against disease," said biology student Scott Moncrieff. "The SURF program is an excellent springboard for students interested in doing research."

Studying under assistant professor Preethi Gunaratne, Moncrieff's project centers on trying to figure out why stem cells become the types of cells that they become. Specifically, by understanding why stem cells turn into bone and skin cells, they can then progress to seeing if scientists can influence the process using nucleic acids, similar to DNA.

"I became interested in doing research like this when I found out that it could be used to fight cancer," Moncrieff said. "My dad died from cancer in 2007 after a 12-year battle, and that really motivated me to try to do all that I could to fight it, going forward. This particular project stems directly from that original motivation."

Another student tackling a serious medical issue is chemical engineering major K.C. Schuette, under the mentorship of professor Peter Vekilov. Schuette's work focuses on sickle cell anemia, a disease that converts normal hemoglobin in red blood cells into mutated hemoglobin through polymerization, which has been shown to be the primary cause of the disease. For this project, he is working to design a platform for a data measurement and collection system, called a microfluidic device, for studying the kinetics of this polymerization.

"If the polymerization can be stopped or controlled, then the disease can be," Schuette said. "To do this, we must study the polymerization process that our microfluidic device will be able to do. Ultimately, we hope this will allow a vaccine to be administered that can prevent this disease."

Lessons these SURF students learn include the importance of setting goals, the value of teamwork and the ability to apply their book knowledge to real-life problems.

"I've learned that good science is not made in a day," said biology junior Jaime Carrillo. "I learned to establish long-term goals and to develop them with discipline, commitment and dedication. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to work in a team, contributing to the group's scientific advancement."

Lead poisoning and the retina are at the heart of Carrillo's research, focusing on lead and its effect on retinal development. Working with professor Donald Fox, Carrillo hopes this research will contribute to increasing the awareness about the adverse effects of low-level lead on the developing retina and visual system.

Under the direction of assistant professor Jokubas Ziburkus is another promising project. Hoping his team's research into basic neural mechanisms provides new context to help later researchers understand and cure a variety of diseases, biology student Matthew Styskal is specifically looking into how Dravet syndrome, a genetic disorder causing seizures in young children, works.

"Sufferers of Dravet syndrome currently have no real cure, and the disease is sometimes fatal," Styskal said. "Our research could find a specific neural defect that could be targeted with a drug."

Also majoring in biology, Jihad Harmouche is working in the lab of associate professor Gregg Roman on better understanding how we perceive the world around us through the olfactory system. By studying sense of smell in fruit flies, his project involves trying to understand how the olfactory systems of animals can distinguish between odor molecules that are structurally and chemically very similar. With this knowledge, he says scientists can better understand how certain aspects of animal behavior are tied to sense of smell. Applying this to humans, he envisions one day being able to build technology, such as more accurate and less expensive sensors, that helps us better understand the physical world surrounding us.

"The SURF program has been very rewarding, I've learned a lot about the scientific process through participation," Harmouche said. "I have designed and carried out experiments, analyzed the data and thought about how the results support our hypothesis. Through SURF, I am able to take the knowledge I learned from science classes and apply it to my experiments."

At the end of the program, the SURF students will be prepared to present research posters on their substantive projects at UH's annual Undergraduate Research Day Oct. 11. For more information, visit http://uh.edu/honors/undergraduate-research/uh-research/urday2012/index.php.


'/>"/>
Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Students focus on creating a better cervical collar
2. Loyola Stritch, Niehoff students receive prestigious Schweitzer Fellowships
3. Grant awarded to help improve problem-solving skills for deaf and hard-of-hearing students
4. University studies and career expectations of medical students
5. UC students design a better pill bottle for the blind and visually impaired
6. Outstanding high school students receive awards to stimulate research interest in digestive diseases
7. DotComSecrets’ Russell Brunson Is Revealing Online Money Making Secrets in Free Webinars for Students
8. Male Ontario students show declines in fighting; females show elevated bullying and mental distress
9. College Students Who Use Tanning Beds Often Burn: Study
10. Wilderness Medicine founder offers health tips for summer season
11. Shape Up, Safely, for Summer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UH students spent summer making a difference with hands-on research
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... , ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the Law Office of Somekh ... law and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel helps our office remain up ... network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. , ElderCounsel was ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Many families have long-term insurance that covers care ... have a waiver for care if the client has a cognitive impairment diagnosis. ... for care, is often waived, so the benefits from their insurance start immediately,” said ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... most influential people in business to advocate for action towards gender equality at their ... 18,000 views from around the globe, and reached a social audience of over 3 ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House of ... popular and least understood books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. The Book of Revelation ... scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it off as mere rubbish, but Yisrayl Hawkins ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Coveros, a leader ... been awarded a contract by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). ... the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in a consistent and high value manner ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)...  EpiVax, Inc., a leader in the fields ... announced the launch of EpiVax Oncology Inc., a ... cancer vaccines. EpiVax has provided $500,000 in seed ... technologies to the new precision immunotherapy venture. Gad ... as Chief Executive Officer. Gad brings over 25 ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... , Sept. 22, 2017 AVACEN Medical (AVACEN) ... is now successfully helping those with the widespread pain ... Fibromyalgia diagnosed Amanda in Essex, England ... washing my hair, experiencing no sleep at all, tremendous ... spasm… I cannot recommend [the AVACEN 100] enough, how ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... KALAMAZOO, Mich. , Sept. 18, 2017 ... , and OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy of Kalamazoo, ... offer a strategic hub service that expedites and streamlines ... personal spirometer, Spiro PD 2.0, and wellness management services.  ... is a medical device used to measure lung function ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: