Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SURP poster session

2012 Summer Undergraduate Research Program Concludes

A successful poster session and research symposium officially concluded the 2012 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences. SURP is an umbrella program comprised of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU), Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, iGEM, CMU-Qatar, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Scholars, HHMI Researchers, and HHMI Summer Research Institute (SRI). The 62 participants from Carnegie Mellon University and other institutions conducted research with faculty mentors in cell biology, developmental biology, biochemistry, neuroscience and computational biology.

Five HHMI Scholars, ten NSF-REU participants, and four HHMI Researchers presented 8-minute talks about their research at the SURP Research Symposium. To view a complete listing of presentations, please visit

At the SURP Poster Session, 44 students showcased posters on diverse topics such as computational modeling of coupling-induced neuronal synchrony in heterogeneous networks and the regenerative process in Patiria miniata larvae. Undergraduates, mentors, departmental staff and other members of the campus community attended both events.

“Working in Dr. David Hackney’s biochemistry lab, I explored a research field quite different than one I pursue at my home university, allowing me to both cement my desire to go to graduate school in a biochemistry-related field and to learn techniques and methods of analysis that would make me successful there. Furthermore, my experience at Carnegie Mellon has not only been educational, but also fun. Beyond the numerous activities planned by the program, the other REU students and I really bonded as a group and enjoyed exploring all that Pittsburgh has to offer. This summer, I have made friendships that I believe will last a lifetime,” stated NSF-REU participant Ashley Fidler, who studied the role of Unc-76 in the induction of Kinesin-1 auto-inhibition release.

Etorobasi Ekpe, another NSF-REU student, had a similar experience. “I worked in Dr. Ettensohn’s Lab studying how the genome encodes sea urchin development. I had a great time in lab and learned many new techniques. Everyone was so welcoming and helped me at every step of my project. I also learned how to be independent while doing my research. Because of this, I feel more confident in pursuing my M.D./Ph.D. degree.”

SURP is aimed towards providing undergraduates with a strong platform to train in scientific research and prepare them for careers in the field through active participation in current laboratory. For more information on the program, please visit

View photos from the Symposium and Poster Session on Flickr