2011 Alumni Journals

Fayeza Aliou – Lehman College, CUNY

This summer has been never-ending but a career-steering opportunity for me. I got to be a part of the MAP program which sponsored my trip to the ENDO 2011 meeting: interesting lectures and career expos alongside inspiring scientists and mentors. I didn’t do much to be frank but it was a lot of fun. Charlottesville is small and polite (people), with lots of good food ? I had a great mentor (Ira Schulman), who loves to teach and I feel really lucky as everyone in my lab was very friendly and always ready to help. They made my lab experience the best one and I could not be more grateful.  And finally, a huge thank you to SRIP.


Uriah Astorga – University of Texas at El Paso

This summer was fantastic. I had a great group of lab partners who I will always consider mentors and friends. They supported me in every way and taught me my strengths and weaknesses. This internship not only opened up many doors for me, but made me see that I want to pursue a graduate degree.
Everyone always asks what was the best part of it all and my answer is always, ” I found my career path and it’s so exciting to know that I’ve made a huge decision to pursue the next big step in my life.”

Emily C. Kelly Castro – University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

First of all it was the best summer of life with the greatest experiences. I worked in the Pharmacology department in Dr. Leitinger’s lab. Studying Pharmacology for grad school has been in my mind for years so I think this was the best place and opportunity to get a good idea what it is really about and to reassure myself that I really wanted to do that. I got the chance to learn new techniques and expand my knowledge in this field. In terms of Charlottesville, it is really good place to be; you will not run out of things to do.  It’s a beautiful, historic town were you learn a lot and make new friends.

Ashley Davis – Baylor University

When I came to UVA this summer, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with science the way that I did. From the first week on, I knew that I didn’t want this to be the last time that I did research. I had no experience in a lab, and few relevant advanced classes—I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Everyone in my lab was so wonderful, receptive and kind, and they really helped make the experience everything that it could be. Dr. Nataro’s lab is like a little family, and I really feel like they adopted me this summer.  I love each and every one of them.
As the summer went on, I began to realize that all the reasons I wanted to become a physician were the reasons that people become physician scientists, and that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals without pursuing MD/PhD training.  As I said before, I also really fell in love with research, and by the end of the summer, I was thinking like a scientist. When I came this summer, I was planning on going to medical school, and maybe getting a masters in Bioethics. Research has won a special place in my heart though—I’ve changed all of my plans, and am applying to MD/PhD programs for next year. Without the SRIP experience, I wouldn’t have realized that research was what I really wanted to do until much later in life—maybe I wouldn’t have discovered it at all.  I also made a lot of wonderful friends in the program—people I really hope I keep in touch with. I can safely say that this has been one of the best summers in my undergraduate experience.

Alya Elsayed-Ali –  University of North Carolina

SRIP is a golden opportunity to conduct research and to gain experience in a laboratory.  I learned so much from working in the Cardiovascular Research Center, and gained insight that I would not have otherwise.  It was truly wonderful getting to know my fellow SRIP participants.  This program has sparked my interest in pursuing knowledge and research in my future career.
During these ten weeks, I learned about a variety of scientific fields from UVA faculty members.  I witnessed how these fields connect through my research and through the lecture series.  I fully recommend SRIP to anyone driven towards scientific discovery.

Jacqueline Lamar – Claflin University

As an SRIP intern at the University of Virginia, I was constantly challenged to put my mind on a higher intellectual level! It was expected of me to work hard, focus, and most importantly, learn what I was doing in the lab. After connecting with my peers, other professors, and my mentor I feel more confident than ever to pursue my goals. This internship not only gave me the opportunity to network, learn new laboratory techniques (or perfect the techniques already known), but to build upon myself to become a better thinker, communicator, and researcher. I love how SRIP emphasizes a sense of family. It puts to ease any feelings of anxiety or frustration when you realize that you’re not alone. There were a variety people who had aspirations to become medical doctors, researchers, or both! I’m going to end my summer with a whole new mind and attitude! Overall, I am honored to be awarded the opportunity to be an SRIP scholar. What I learned from this experience will be sweetly remembered as I carry it with me to continue the journey towards higher learning.

Segni Ligaba – University of Virginia

When I applied to SRIP, my main goal was to see if research was interesting and exciting.  By the end of the program, I was able to say research was both interesting and exciting and that I seriously consider research as part of my future career.  I had a great mentor who taught me tons of research techniques and inspired me to continue conducting independent research.  I recommend SRIP to anyone who wants to find out what research and research labs are like. You will not regret applying to this amazing program!

Kaitlyn Marks – The University of Notre Dame

My SRIP experience was better than I ever could have imagined! I had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in a lab which allowed me to see what research is like from start to finish as well as everything in between. I learned new techniques and skills as the result of a wonderful mentor who constantly encouraged me to try new things. I was able to feel the excitement of when things worked and the desire to try again when they failed. In ten weeks, I was able to see a side of science I have not seen before and I will be forever grateful for that. Additionally, I was able live and become friends with the other SRIP participants with whom I have formed friendships that will last long after SRIP has ended. I would enthusiastically recommend the SRIP program to anyone who is considering a future in either medicine or research. It will challenge you in ways you never imagined but will provide you with the opportunity to see science in action.

Matthew McCauley – Johns Hopkins University

Experience: My experiences here were great. Charlottesville is a nice little town (I’m used to big cities, but I adjusted fairly quickly; good restaurants here, too). SRIP is perfect for those who are unsure of their future PhD endeavors: if you are uncertain coming in, you will no longer be when you leave. Be assured that by the end of the summer, you will either 1) wholeheartedly love scientific research, or 2) decide that science is not for you. But no matter what you choose to do in graduate school, SRIP will give you an “edge” (experientially and academically speaking) on your competitors.
Exposure to ideas: Far too many to completely list. molecular physiology, genetics, biophysics, biochemistry, pharmacology, etc.  Aside from scientific talks, we listened to several lectures on the reality of graduate school (got tons of advice too!!).

Alan Molina – University of Virginia

The most valuable insight I gained from my experience was an insight into the common motivation shared by the scientists with which I interacted. I grasped the excitement for the discovery and application of new knowledge which underlies all biomedical research. I know now that I too share this motivation and am capable of acting on it by conducting research of my own. My entire experience was supplemented by the relationships I formed with the other interns in the program. These relationships will undoubtedly last long into the future.

Kimberley Monks – University of Southern California

I learned so much about scientific thought and experimental methods. It was great to apply the knowledge that I have gained in class to real problems and projects. I was so excited the first time I produced actual results for a project! I also met great people who made me feel at home in Charlottesville. My fellow SRIP students and I explored the city together, and there are so many great things to do here. My lab had such a collaborative and helpful atmosphere that I felt like I learned something new every day. I definitely feel more informed about my future career options after participating in SRIP.  I discovered a new love for research and am excited to continue with it in the future.

 Peter James Nash – UMASS, Amherst

I found the Summer Research Internship Program to be an educational and enriching experience. The twice weekly lectures were very informative and gave me new insights into a variety of research fields. Conducting biomedical research in the lab allowed me to become more proficient at many lab techniques, helped me better understand and apply the scientific method, and strengthened an interest in ‘doing science.’ I also greatly enjoyed meeting many new people and spending countless hours with them outside of the lab.

Laura Powell – University of Delaware

Because I had no research experience prior to the SRIP program at UVA, I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this summer. But I quickly realized that I had made a good decision in deciding to come to UVA, for over the summer I gained a vast amount of knowledge about the daily life of a researcher, and learned many new lab techniques with much guidance from my wonderful mentor and very helpful lab technicians. I also had the chance to sharpen my presentation skills, and learned how to put together a poster for the first time. Twice a week seminars on a broad range of topics from personalized genomics to protein chemistry exposed me to a variety of areas in which I previously had limited knowledge. Even though graduate school is still a few years away for me, I was able to benefit from GRE practice sessions, and talking to current grad students as well as people in my lab replaced the rather vague idea in my mind of what grad school is like with a much more definite picture. Beyond the academic and lab work, however, I really enjoyed getting to know the other students, and had fun participating in weekend activities, such as hiking in Shenandoah National Park and visiting Monticello. Charlottesville and the surrounding area offer much in the way of restaurants and attractions, and there is always something to do. Overall, I would highly recommend this program to prospective students who are considering a career in research as an invaluable way to discover if such a pursuit would be a good fit for them.

Roxanne Smoker – Concord College

I had a great time at SRIP this summer.  My mentor and lab mates were amazing and I developed friendships that will last a lifetime. While my project presented many frustrations, I still enjoyed the experience and learned a lot, and had fun in the process. UVA is a great school set in a wonderful town with lots to do and outstanding food. I would defiantly recommend this program, but don’t forget to have some fun while your here too!!