Student Reviews

2015 Alumni Journals

Jessica Asiedu – Medgar Evers College

The Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) at the University of Virginia was an enlightening research experience that gave me a new perspective on the realities of science and how it plays an important role in our lives. This program taught me the most valuable lesson in science: finding cures and ways to make life better for our generation to come.In my lab, I was exposed to various lab techniques and critical thinking projects. My mentor, who I admire the most, encouraged and motivated me through his research on finding a cure. This experience made me realize that there are people working behind the scenes to save lives. My lab partners were great people who made work fun in the lab and proved to me that “Team work makes the Dream work”. The knowledge and experience possessed by my peers in the program introduced me to a network of ideas that will help me move forward with my work and reinforce the importance of communication in any profession. Overall, I feel honored and thankful to have had the privilege of coming to this institution where I gained so much more than I had ever expected. Considering how strongly SRIP has impacted my personal and professional growth, I strongly recommend it to all students who are considering pursing an education beyond a bachelor’s degree.


 Nita Gombakomba -Lynchburg College

For the second time, my summer with the SRIP was, overall, unforgettable. I had the opportunity to return to my lab from last year and to work on an exciting new project. I again mastered several new techniques in the lab and enjoyed articulating my research at our Friday roundtable meetings. Being continually exposed to the many opportunities that UVA has to offer allowed me to become more open to the idea of pursing a combined MD/PhD or MD/MPH program.Besides my experience in the lab, I also enjoyed spending time with my colleagues. Our group certainly had an interesting mix of personalities. I certainly established good friendships with my roommates and neighbors, and I look forward to keeping in touch with them.

Indeed, a program such as SRIP is phenomenal in the opportunities that it grants an individual in terms of networking, exploring different areas of bio-medical research and truly understanding what it takes to do well in a scientific career. As such, I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in basic science research or medicine.


Dawanna Lewis – Talladega College

When I applied to SRIP I did not have a lot of research experience. Attending SRIP has leaned me even more toward a career in research. This program has opened my eyes to the fact that conducting research can be fun especially when you are able to produce usable results.During the ten weeks of this program I worked in the Pharmacology department in the Bland lab. Ms. Bland is my PI and my mentor for the program. She has broadened my knowledge about Drosophila genetics and many pathways that has an effect on insulin signaling. Stephen, the lab technician, was also very helpful.As this program draws to a close I can truly say this program was a learning experience for me. I learned how to do western blots, used a sonifier machine, ordered around 238 different lines of Drosophila (fruit flies), and much more.

I recommend this program to students that need research experience or want to work in an upscale lab. This program will satisfy your needs. You will learn a lot and have the opportunity to attend talks about different programs here at UVA including cardiovascular programs, medical school, MD-PH.D programs,and graduate studies. My advice to the next group of applicants is to take a chance and apply. You may think that you will not get accepted into the program but it is free to apply and there is still a chance that you will get accepted. Sometimes you have to take a chance and roll the dice. It is definitely an experience you will never forget.
Good Luck future SRIP interns!


Lane McCandless – Michigan State University

My summer experience with SRIP has truly been one to remember. When I first arrived in Charlottesville I was unsure of the level and quality of training I was going to receive. However, upon completion of this ten week program I feel that Dr. Le’s Nephrology lab has equipped me with the knowledge and lab skills to be able to pursue any biomedical avenue that I deem interesting. Moreover, looking beyond the practical skills, I feel that the faculty in my lab were sincerely dedicated to making my time in Charlottesville the best experience possible in addition to ensuring that I had a firm grasp of how science is carried out in a laboratory setting. I think that one of the most valuable things I learned over my ten-week stay is that biomedical research is both a logical and creative endeavor and it is critical to perfect these skills in order to keep up with this dynamic and constantly expanding field.I would like to thank everyone in Dr. Le’s lab for having me this summer, in particular Dr. Joey Gigliotti for being a mentor who genuinely wanted to see me succeed no matter what the cost to him, as well as my PI Dr. Thu Le for allowing me to learn and refine my skills in her lab in addition to sharing her vast collection of biomedical knowledge with me. Lastly, I want to thank Joel Hockensmith for allowing everyone in the program to improve our presentation and communication skills, as well as my fellow SRIP peers for always pushing me to be my best and for being the best company this summer. I can honestly say that this program has hugely impacted my future as a scientist, and my life as a whole, in the most positive way.


Smakaleng Monyai – University of Venda, South Africa

When I applied for the program I had expectations. And when I came into the program I had a different perspective about conducting research and what it entails. I am proud to say that all that has changed in these 10 weeks of being exposed to my lab and other researchers. Even though the projects assigned was completely different from the one I am doing back home, my expectations were highly met. Being a Biochemistry major placed in a Microbiology lab, it was challenging and discouraging, but it all changed and opened my eyes in a way beyond my imagination. I enjoyed working in my lab; the culture was incredible. I understand now how to be a team player. I acquired research skills, knowledge and connections which I will use to endeavor as an upcoming female researcher. I never really understood how science operates and the importance of collaboration. I honestly didn’t cared about other fields and had no interest in what others study. I am glad to say I realize science is like a tree and each faculty is like branches and leaves, in order to solve problems worldwide one can not be without the other.I have never been so far away from home and for the first day I had no idea how I was to make it, but thanks to my SRIP colleagues I made it. And thanks to Charlottesville being a town filled with friendly people. I enjoyed my stay here and I sure would love to find myself back here again. I am proud to say the experience sharpened my interest of studying abroad for my PhD. I am grateful for the SRIP coordinators and everyone who made it possible for this opportunity. I learned a lot from the faculty and I am encouraged to spread the knowledge back home. I just wish the program spreads worldwide and take other students from other developing countries to draw more scientific interests. With more opportunities like this across countries it will surely make the world a better place.


Yvetane Moreau – UMASS, Boston

It has been a great privilege and experience to participate in the UVA SRIP program. During my ten weeks of stay, I was exposed to cutting edge research and built friendship with my peers in the program and mentor. I learned about what it means to be a scientist, how to think like one and what it entails. We had great lecturers who had shared with us their science and how they themselves started as a scientist. I now, have a clear understanding of what I want to do next, which is to pursue a Ph.D. in Biodefense. I would recommend this fantastic program to anyone who likes science and who’s seeking to gain understanding or experience.


Maddie Rose – Rochester Institue of Technology

My experience at UVA this summer will be one that I will always remember. As a rising senior it was important to me to work in a lab that would be a realistic setting to compare to what my future would be if I were to pursue a PhD degree. This summer experience has reinforced my decision to not only purse a PhD degree, but has made me consider pursuing it at UVA. Although every lab is different, I was fortunate to work in lab with a collaborative atmosphere. I never had to hesitate to ask for clarification, whether it was from my mentor or graduate students or post docs who worked in the lab. I felt like a researcher, not just a summer intern, and a lot of that had to with the relationship I had with my mentor. It very much mimicked the relationship between a boss and employee: I would do my experiments and then show him the results rather than walking through each experiment step by step every time.What really set this summer apart were the people I got to share it with, specifically my suite-mates. I’m not one for hanging out in large groups, so it was nice to have a close group of people I could hang out with. When things weren’t going well in lab it really helped to be able to talk to my suite-mates about it who understood the frustrations I was facing. They gave me the motivation to keep working at it, but also a way to relax and have fun. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who is interested in research whether they know exactly what they want to do or if they’re unsure. This program does a great job of hosting various talks featuring scientists and their research in a wide variety of fields.


 Ian Snyder – Vassar College

The short ten-weeks that I spent as a resident of Charlottesville and a member of the Dutta Lab at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on me. I arrived at UVA with little knowledge of how to conduct effective biomedical research and have emerged from the program with a novel appreciation for the challenges and excitement associated with a career in scientific research. The struggles of performing just one successful Western Blot or mammalian cell transfection have made clear to me just how much training and dedication is required before one can begin making significant advances in their research endeavors and expand upon the existing base of scientific knowledge. As I spent more time in the lab surrounded by post-docs and graduate students, I became increasingly impressed by their incredible scientific acumen and unwavering devotion to their projects. One thing I did not expect was to form such a close personal bond with my mentor, Dr. Samarendra Singh, and to other members of the lab, who became like a second family away from home. Even though I did not get to publish a paper in Nature after my short tenure at UVA, I felt that I was able to make a positive impact on the project I was working on and learned that it is not always the major publication that brings satisfaction, but the arduous process of getting to that point.The other major boon of SRIP is its beautiful location within Charlottesville. Waste no time in getting out and exploring the area in which you are living, for although Charlottesville itself is a small city, there are endless nooks and crannies to discover within the town and abundant natural vistas to be amazed by in the surrounding area. When you spend most of your time in the lab conducting research on microscopic organisms and cellular signaling pathways, nothing is more important than getting out and enjoying the macroscopic wonders of the world around you.SRIP is certainly a program geared toward those interested in pursuing a career in biomedical research, but it is by no means useful to only those who are set upon such a path. Anybody with even a vague interest or talent in science should consider this program, for you never know how one experience may significantly change your direction in life. I am now interested in exploring M.D./Ph.D. programs and other opportunities besides only attending medical school. Whatever path I may take, my experience at SRIP has granted me invaluable insight into the many careers that a biomedical scientist may pursue. I thank the program administrators, Dr. Joel Hockensmith and Jeff Baker, for providing me with this opportunity, and I send my best wishes to all other future SRIP members.


Erin Weddle – Shenandoah University

The Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) at UVA School of Medicine has been a wonderful experience. I applied for SRIP hoping to gain research experience to prepare myself for graduate work. However, after completing the program, I feel have gotten so much more than just research experience.The program offered several lectures about the graduate programs here at UVA, which is partially why the UVA School of Medicine is my number one choice for graduate studies. Lab work was also supplemented with lectures about research techniques, including mass spectrometry and microscopy. My research project was extremely exciting and allowed me to learn techniques that I otherwise would not have been exposed to until graduate school.In addition to bench skills, my project gave me an opportunity to consider the clinical applications of my science. Before this program, I thought I wanted to do biomedical research. While SRIP solidified this passion for research, it also gave me a reason to do research. Speaking with doctors about the clinical aspect of my project opened my eyes to WHY we do biomedical research: to help people. Overall, SRIP has been a great experience and I am thankful to have had this opportunity.


Stephen D. Williams –  Norfolk State University

The Summer Research Internship Program at the University of Virginia has been the best experience of my undergraduate years. Coming into the program, I was not quite sure what to expect. I was completely nervous and very hard on myself at first. After the first day in the lab, I began to feel at home. The professors, students, and faculty of this great institution were very welcoming and loving. My mentor, Dr. Norbert Leitinger, and the entire lab staff spent countless hours working with me to ensure I was comfortable with all the techniques being taught.I specifically enjoyed how the Program Director, Dr. Joel Hockensmith, arranged for professors and faculty from all programs within the School of Medicine to hold lectures and seminars for us every Monday and Friday afternoon. These seminars were very instrumental with broadening our knowledge of all the different fields of medicine as well as the graduate programs offered at UVA. Thank You to SRIP for the honor of experiencing just what one of our nation’s top institutions has to offer. I highly recommend this program!