Wesleyan’s Mukerji Lab, Maiko Kondo ’07 studies peptides modeled after those
found in Alzheimer’s plaques. Nearby in the Flory Lab, Brandon Stein ’07
examines nuclear functions of telomere-associated proteins.
Wesleyan University Summer Hughes Fellows, Kondo and Stein have 10 weeks to
complete their research, work one-on-one with a faculty advisor and
participate in a variety of Hughes activities. They’re among 49 students who
received grants from the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, funded by the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Michael Weir, professor of biology and chair of the Biology Department is
the director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences. Laurel Appel,
visiting associate professor of biology and senior research associate is the
Weir says the Hughes Fellows can test-drive being a research scientist in
one of the Wesleyan research groups. This experience, however, comes with
the successes and disappointments of exploring a new field of science.
"When you come in to the lab in the morning, you don't really know what you
are going to find out by the end of the day or week -- that's the
excitement, and sometimes frustration, of doing full-time research,” Weir
annual summer program is in its 17th year at Wesleyan and
immerses undergraduates in a research topic that fascinates them without the
time constraints and workload inherent to a full load of classes normally
taken during the academic semesters.
Thirty-three faculty members are on hand to help guide the students’
research. This year, students are studying topics as diverse as “Serotonin
and its Effect on Dentate Gyrus Neurogenesis,” “Patterns in hiring practices
for tenure-track positions in the geosciences,” and “Investigating the
Beginnings of Chimpanzee Research in the United States,” among several
“Research training during the Hughes Summer Program allows undergraduates a
valuable opportunity to make serious strides of progress on a project, to
have a positive experience doing full-time research, and to possibly
solidify a desire to pursue a career in the experimental sciences,” says
Stein’s summer advisor and Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and
Biochemistry Mark Flory.
Kondo decided to pursue a degree in molecular biology and biochemistry after
suffering from allergies her entire life. Ultimately, she wants to know why
this is, and how people can be cured.
I studied further in this field, I started to hope that I would be able to
conduct research, exploring the relations between allergy and the immune
system in my future,” she says. “The summer research program gives me a good
opportunity to learn about research techniques, which are needed to approach
addition to research, the Hughes Summer Program includes a special day-long
workshop for all interested students, faculty, and staff on an emerging
topic in the Life Sciences. This year, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
presents, "Breaking Boundaries: Scientists and Dancers, Investigations and
summer program also includes a seminar series given by outside speakers who
design their talks for the undergraduate audience of varying scientific
backgrounds and fields. This year’s speakers include Margaret Livingstone of
Harvard Medical School; Anna Martini of Amherst College; Mikhail Levin of
the University of Connecticut Health Center; Katrina Catron of
Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals; Remus Th. Dame of Vrije Universiteit;
and Monica Carson of the University of California.
Although the research is intense, the program allows ample socialization
time. Two picnics, a student-run movie series, softball league, field trips,
access to the Freeman Athletic Center and drop-in lunches are offered for
Students applying for the 2006 Hughes Program must do so by March 3, 2006.
The grant budget allows for 18 stipends, but with generous contributions
from participating departments and faculty, as well as Financial Aid funds,
the program can accept between 40 and 50 students each year. Students are
responsible for their own housing.
program concludes August 5 with a poster session.
more information contact Maureen Snow, administrative assistant for the
Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, at firstname.lastname@example.org.