Emma Lutz

Microbiology and Public Health
Researcher at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health

“My name is Emma Lutz, and I am a junior Microbiology and Public health double major pursuing a dual degree. In the summer of 2015, I had my first experience with independent research at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. I had the opportunity to research malaria, and I worked with a post-doc on constructing a late stage gametocyte-specific fluorescent Plasmodium falciparum line, which would have eventually been used as a tool for screening for host factors that are important for the development of sexual-stage parasites. In addition to learning the basics of molecular cloning, I also became familiar with multiple parasite techniques, including culturing parasites, sorbitol synchronization, MACS purification, performing an invasion assay, and freezing and thawing parasites.

Currently, I am conducting an independent research project at UMass pertaining to the ability of house flies to vector the pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, which causes a debilitating disease called Trachoma that eventually leads to blindness in the infected host. I originally became aware of my ability to participate in these programs through the OURS office at UMass, where people worked with me to find programs that fit my individual needs and requirements. The guidance provided by the OURS office facilitated my participation in paid internships that allowed me to gain valuable experience in the field I am interested in.”

Linda Nguyen

Microbiology, minor in Spanish
Research Assistant at the Laboratory of Medical Zoology

“My name is Linda Nguyen and I am a junior microbiology major and Spanish minor. I was first introduced to Debra Phillis at the OURS office during my second semester of freshman year. Not knowing where to begin, Deb first learned about my interests and then skillfully compiled for me a list of professors conducting research pertaining to such themes. Despite not being able to find a lab that semester, Deb encouraged me to contact other professors. The following semester, I joined Dr. Rich’s lab at the Laboratory of Medical Zoology. Through this opportunity, I have had the chance to be both a research and lab assistant. Applying PCR and gel electrophoresis to B. miyamotoi samples whilst learning to find, analyze, and communicate scientific articles has taught me much more in a unique, hands-on style, more so than in traditional lectures. I learned about field collection, identified and processed ticks in the lab, and even learned about the business aspect of science.

Deb, always eager to help, helped me to narrow down different REU’s and summer programs to apply to. Furthermore, she helped to edit my résumé and cover letter. As a result, I was accepted into my dream program as a scholar of the UMass Baccalaureate MD (BaccMD) Program at UMass Medical. This past summer, I experienced one month of “medical school boot camp” where I was given the opportunity to take physics and English courses, attend lectures by UMass Medical physicians, leaders from Worcester, and other enrichment speakers. Additionally, I worked in a small group to conduct a research project on the health disparities of LGBT youth in relation to substance abuse in Massachusetts. I will be attending the second session of BaccMD this following summer!

I give my sincere thanks to Deb and the OURs office for their years of support. Without them, I may have missed out on these eye-opening and memorable learning experiences. I highly recommend this resource to anyone (any or no experience, any major) who wants to learn more about research and the myriad of opportunities available to you!”

Orett Burke, Jr.

Researcher in Dr. Tew's lab for Polymer Science and Engineering

“Hi, my name is Orett Burke, Jr. and I am a junior studying biology. I transferred to UMass Amherst last spring semester of 2015 from Dickinson College. I am currently working on a FDA funded project in Dr. Zoeller’s lab. My project focuses on how bis-phenol A affects the thyroid hormone during brain development. However, during my first semester here, I wanted to find a “REU” or internship that met my needs. Debra Phillis of the OURS office scrutinized several programs in order to find the program most suitable for me. She made an overwhelming process much easier through her persistence and dedication to help me out. With her help I was able to get accepted into the Institute for Cellular Engineering program at UMass Amherst. During the summer I did research in Dr. Tew’s lab in the Conte research building for Polymer Science and Engineering. My project focused on designing polymeric protein mimics for siRNA delivery. At the end of the program I was able to present my research to other members of the program and PhDs. I am very grateful to have met Ms. Phillis because she assisted me in finding an opportunity that created my foundation in medicine.”

Shakira Ssebyala

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
NYU Sackler School of Medicine SURP

“Following my first Introductory Biology in spring 2016, I developed interest in research. “Did I even know what research was?” is the question that ran through my mind. Moreover, with no research experience at all, I had no idea where to even start so I sought out to the OURS office. One of the advisors, gave me hope that I would start somewhere and with her hard work made finding a good research internship much less stressful. After screening through so many programs that late in the semester, she was able to find me my first research experience as a freshman. That summer I worked in the Antimicrobial Discovery lab at Northeastern University in Boston. The goal of my project was to identify novel antimicrobial compounds from the naturally producing Xeno and Photorhabdus bacteria. After this incredible experience where I learnt multiple skills, I went on to work in Dr. Jerry’s lab here on campus where we study the role of estrogen and p53 in the development of breast cancer. Stemming from the major goal of the lab, I continue studying the role of estrogen receptor beta in the genomic surveillance of the mammary epithelium. Together with Deb, we found this summer’s experience ending up doing clinical research experience with Dr. Richard Possemato lab at NYU School of Medicine, studying cancer cell metabolism. I had an independent project studying the effect of suppressing polymerase epsilon in tumorigenesis of high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas, the most common yet deadly subtype of ovarian cancer. Besides research, this experience gave me the opportunity to shadow 2 Emergency physicians allowing me to explore possible career paths which inspired my future goals. I hope to continue doing research as it’s especially fascinating. I must say that I would not have been able to find such great programs without Deb and we are definitely fortunate to have the OURS office.”

Stephanie Choi

Psychology (Neuroscience) and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Research fellow at UMass Medical School and intern at Sanofi Genzyme

My name is Stephanie, and I am a pre-med student with a passion in translational medicine and clinical research. I will be a senior this upcoming school year, and it will be my 3rd year working as part of the LRC family! LRC brought me to OURs, which has played a critical role in my past internship applications. In particular, I am very thankful for Ms. Phillis’ help - from researching programs which align with my research interest, to editing my resume, and introducing me to alums with similar academic interest. With her continuous support in the past 2 years, I have been accepted to numerous summer research internships. This includes UMass Medical School, UCSF, UT Southwestern, Mayo Clinic, and Sanofi Genzyme.

Last summer (2016), I was an NIH research fellow under Dr. Jason Kim at UMass Medical School. I was given the opportunity to follow-up on an exciting project about the linkage of breast cancer tumor and insulin resistance. I designed molecular experiments, learned to handle mice models, and utilized techniques such as hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, tail vein micro-sampling, RT-qPCR and Western blot. I discovered significant findings that helps guiding the research team’s future direction, and findings were presented at several conferences. Ever since, I have been in love with translational research!

This summer (2017), I interned at Sanofi Genzyme for clinical research on multiple sclerosis. Being in the pharmaceutical industry allowed me to interact with different professionals in the field of medicine and healthcare: from physician scientists, pharmacists, and optometrists, to professionals in project management, clinical operation, and health economics outcome. I assisted with designing a Phase I multi-national clinical trial, drafting extended synopsis and patient consent forms. It brought me to the real world, where strategies on health regulatory authorities and patient recruitment are keys to successful clinical trials.

Overall, OURs has played a major role in my research career for the past 2 years, opening my door to valuable research opportunities. I received personal support that was tailored to my specific career goal and research interest. Thank you, OURs!”

Tenzin Dawa Thargay

Political Science and Chinese with International Relations and International Scholars Program Certificates.
Research Intern with Verite

“I first became acquainted with the OURS Office during the summer after my freshman year. Having just finished working as a research assistant for Prof. Sharrow of the Political Science Department that spring, I was eager to see what other research opportunities UMass had available which is how I came across OURS. After reaching out to Deb Phillis with my career interests and resume, she helped me to locate a research intern position with local non-profit Verite in Amherst, MA. After submitting my application and competing a phone interview, I received the position.

The research experience I gained with Verite was invaluable. I worked on labor rights projects collecting data, translating Spanish news articles and compiling country reports pertaining to South America and Indonesia. The work was very rewarding because the reports which Verite publishes, advocating for workers who may not have a voice, are in accord with my values of and future aspirations of working in the Foreign Service and serving as an advocate and voice for voiceless people. Having successfully finished my internship with Verite, this summer, I will be interning in Washington D.C at the Department of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the Office of International Religious Freedom.”

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