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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 microflu
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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