2012 Alumni Journals

Zulai Amadu – Hunter College

The Summer Research Internship Program here at the University of Virginia as served as a very valuable resource in my academic path. I entered this program aiming to explore the research field in order to help guide my academic endeavors. I am proud not only to say my experience this summer has increased my knowledge in the biomedical research studies, but also it has facilitated my discovery of wanting to pursue this field as a career path. Working in the cardiovascular disease lab was exciting and rewarding. I had the best mentor–one who finds contentment in sharing his knowledge. On top of all, Charlottesville as small as it is, had so much to offer—from the hospitality of its people to the serene nature of the city. SRIP was well structured, aiming to enable us as interns to acquire more knowledge (through several lectures per week) in the various fields of biomedical research. My overall experience this summer at UVa was incomparable to any other.


Daniel Amor – Villanova University

An important part of the undergraduate experience is exploring the many possibilities that an education can offer in the future. The Summer Research Internship Program at UVA helped me do just that by immersing me in cutting edge infectious disease research on a daily basis for nine weeks. It was a welcome experience to actually experience what the life of academic research can offer, since during the year it is so hard to find time to get in the lab on a regular basis. The mentors put a lot of trust in their assigned students, sometimes making the experience intimidating, but making you learn to think for yourself and actually become somewhat independent in the lab. In case we wanted to know what was happening outside the field of our labs, SRIP also provided bi-weekly lectures that were a great introduction to the many departments that the school maintained.  The summer program was a great experience that was very well organized and I recommend it to anyone remotely interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the sciences.

Alex Ayon – University of California, Santa Cruz

The Summer Research Internship (SRIP) at the University of Virginia was a great opportunity for me to get involved in research and to meet other students interested in science. I spent the summer researching the iron uptake pathways of Francisella tularensis. My mentor was a great resource and guide, helping me with my research along the way. This internship allowed me to experience what it’s like to conduct your own research. I was able to learn valuable lab techniques and apply them to my work. The program itself was well structured with talks from faculty in relevant fields twice a week. Through these talks we got to learn about research going on at the University of Virginia and beyond. These talks also touched upon programs offered at UVA. I was particularly impressed with their M.D./Ph.D program and am now considering undertaking this program. Meeting the other interns was also an invaluable experience. Through them I was able to learn about new research topics I had never considered. This program has made me realize how important communication between scientists in different fields is. I gained a new appreciation for different perspectives and how these perspectives can come together and offer the possibility of more effective solutions to scientific problems. Overall this program has solidified my desire to pursue a Ph.D. In biomedical research. I recommend this program to anyone who wishes to gain more research experience and is considering pursuing a graduate degree.

Laura Battisti – Rochester Institute of Technology

This was a wonderful experience for me! I really enjoyed being able to learn about so many different aspects of Bio-medical research. This program has helped me gain a better understanding of Graduate school, and what is involved in getting in and being successful. Everybody I worked with in the lab wanted to make sure that I knew what everything meant, and were very helpful in preparing me for the end of program presentation!


Joshua Burkholder – Howard University

Being in a setting where I was on the forefront of all knowledge in a field was a new experience.  I felt confused at first because I felt like I didn’t know everything my lab was investigating until I discovered that was the point.  It was the job of my lab to work hard and gather knowledge so that we would know more by the time the summer was over.  My favorite experiences were sitting in on the research lectures and going to poster presentations because they were more easily tailored to my knowledge base. The amount that I learned over the summer was incredible and the opportunity to be placed in an active research lab was irreplaceable.


Stephanie Davis – Oakwood University

After completing the program I would have to say that this was an interesting and worthwhile experience. I have met some amazing friends who have the same interests as me and I thought that was pretty cool. Also the town of Charlottesville was the cutest thing for me. I can see myself going here because there seems to be enough to explore but not a lot of distractions…it’s a good thing. Initially my career path was set towards becoming a doctor, but through this program I learned I do like research and that I can see myself doing this in the near future–how about MD/Ph.D??? I will not forget this summer at UVA’s SRIP–it has helped me to better myself and be a more rounded person.

Angelica Gonzalez-Sanchez – University of Puerto Rico, Cayey

When I was first accepted via The Endocrine Society to participate in the Summer Research Internship Program at the University of Virginia I didn’t think it would be such a life-changing experience. As a freshman, I have never had the opportunity to work in a lab before. Working in Dr. Gioeli’s lab was a tremendous opportunity for me to learn a whole bunch of new lab techniques, from tissue culture to data analysis, among others. On the other hand, my participation in this program gave me the feeling that I could really touch other peoples life’s with my actions, not only because of the relevancy of the research that I was doing for the development of new therapeutic alternatives for prostate cancer, but also because of all the strong bonds that I was able to build with my SRIP peers. For me, Charlottesville became like a second home, both because of the loving people I met here and because it was a place where I could find great food, great places to enjoy my free time and serenity when I needed it. I would definitely recommend SRIP to any undergraduate student that wants to explore biomedical research in different areas and from different perspectives, meaning either by direct bench work, seminars, or discussions. I could say that this program was definitely a great support and inspiration for me to continue striving for my graduate degree.

Tamara Haque – Virginia Commonwealth University

I am very confident in saying that participating in this summer program has made this summer the most enlightening and eye opening summer I have had. Not only has this program challenged and increased my knowledge and skills, it has also challenged me in my career choice. It has solidified my interest in bio-medical research. This summer was my first experience working in a lab. Having the great fortune of working in Dr. Petri’s lab, I have found it to be thought-provoking, stimulating and exciting; it has given me a taste of what it feels like to be a scientist. The atmosphere in the lab was very friendly and helpful. My mentor was very patient and generous with her depthful knowledge. The program is very well organized, with weekly talks that I found fascinating. Overall, this program has been tremendously beneficial. UVa has great faculty who are dedicated to teaching and building knowledge which is why doing a summer program here has been a fabulous experience.


Ombeni Idassi – North Carolina A&T

My summer at UVA was truly a great experience. From researching, to going out with friends, Charlottesville has some nice places to visit and the institution has much to offer.  I was able to do research in Infectious Diseases, something I have never had the experience of working with. The SRIP interns all bonded and had some fun bowling, going to the movies, or just hanging out at Bice House. I am thankful to have participated in this program & meet many incredibly bright individuals.

Emily Kelly – University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

This was my second time completing the SRIP program and I don’t regret it. I got to work with the same mentor as last year (which I wanted to) and it was a good experience for me and decision. It made me realize that what I really want to do is get a Ph.D. During this summer I felt that I was exposed to more data analysis and it was a good thing since it will be a major part of completing a Ph.D. Charlottesville is still a great town to wander around and discover different places. I strongly recommend that everyone should come to this summer program since it really helps you to decide what to do after your bachelor’s degree.

Nelitza Martinez Vega – Interamerican University of Puerto Rico

At first, I thought I was just applying to a front-edge summer research program, but the Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) at the University of Virginia exceeded all of my expectations. During 10 weeks, I got to know the life of a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Department conducting bioinformatics-based research while learning and taking the responsibility for my own driving research project with the mentorship of Dr. Jason Papin and Biomedical Engineering graduate students. Beyond just saying that SRIP gave me my first research experience, I developed independent research abilities and learned new computational applications as well while here.  In the meantime I’ve been exposed to know research and actual work directly from world-recognized scientists. Also, the round table discussions with professors, graduate students and other members of the faculty that the SRIP organized helped me build strong communication skills. Those workshops played a major role in translating your research from the “test tube” to the general public.  Those skills sometimes are underestimated when working over the bench, but the SRIP knows how to make differences between training excellent individuals, to training successful ones. I’m very glad that I said yes to this challenging, but awesome and rewarding experience. Wahooa!

Nefefe Tshifhiwa – University of Venda

The Summer Research Internship Program at the University of Virginia (SRIP) has remarkably sharpened my passion for science. Through this program I was able to learn good laboratory practice and new useful scientific techniques that are applicable to my research area. I have learnt that a good way to understand science is through reading, writing and communicating. In this program, through interaction with different types of students and experts, I was able to develop good social responsibility and learn from others. The SRIP has made me to see that science can be a lifetime career path for me, in which I work to bring solutions to present and future problems through research. This program has intensified my enthusiasm to pursue postgraduate studies and research. With such tremendous impact that the SRIP program has brought into my life as young upcoming scientist, I recommend that this program should expand and reach more students.

Benjamin Walker – Purdue University

This summer I had my best undergraduate research experience so far! I worked closely together with my mentor on my project with everyone in the lab being very supportive and fun. I loved the atmosphere and the fact that I was actually contributing to potentially valuable research.
I also loved Charlottesville and the close-by Blue Ridge Mountains. I had a car so getting around was easy. I went on many hikes and saw bears and other wild life. I also got to know local town’s people and some local food. There are many things to see and the food and people here are great! Another aspect that contributed to this unique experience were the other interns. We all got to know each other and each other’s projects. We interacted on both a personal/casual and a professional level. We had plenty of opportunity to think and talk about our projects and I have received valuable input from my peers. This summer got me more exited about a research career path.