2014 Alumni Journals
Gabriela Balicas ~ Samantha Batista
~ Alyssa Brunal ~ Brandy Burgos
Burris ~ Kamyra
Edokpolor ~ Richard Flores ~ Damaris
Gombakomba ~ Marshall Goodwin ~ Kevin
Michaela Mertz ~ Krystal Roggerson ~ Cheregn Tegegn
To say that this summer has been unpredictable
would be an understatedly crude description. Frankly, I did not expect
this experience to impose any meaningful impact on my personal nor
professional goals. Before starting this program, I had already
acquired a year and a half of research experience and I, reasonably,
believed that a mere ten more weeks could not and would not trigger any
significant change in the way that I perceived myself nor my academic
ambitions. If asked to identify the exact root of this shift in
mentality, I would accredit it to the interpersonal interactions and
enriching conversations I have held with those whom I have met
throughout this program.
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During this time, I have come to believe that the beauty of SRIP lies,
arguably, in the program's facilitation of a variety of interpersonal
interactions among people from diversified backgrounds. I have spoken
to MDs, PhDs, MD/PhDs, post-docs, PhD students, MD students, MD/PhD
students, undergrad graduates, and other undergraduates about their
career elects and ambitions, conversations which I can only describe as
invaluable. These discussions sparked in me profound introspection as
to how I should realistically intend to pursue a career within the STEM
field. For instance, I was originally considering attempting to go into
an MD/PhD program, but after this experience I realized that MD/PhD is,
inarguably, not for me.
The research aspect itself was on par with working in any research lab
as an undergraduate; it's what you make of it. You have to trust your
inherent machinery and free yourself from hardwired abstractions to be
able to truly reap the rewards of research. A cookbook procedure may
get you through an operation, but unless you’re ready to question and
critically analyze yourself every step of the way, there will be no
improvement; no innovation. Only once you can research with confidence,
to truly experiment, will you be able to feel the joy that comes with
I conclude this entry by saying that SRIP is an experience that
everyone interested in the medical and biological research fields
should participate in. The opportunity I have been given through this
program is something I have benefitted from wholeheartedly, and I
believe anyone else would do the same.
Samantha Batista - Vassar
My summer with SRIP was wonderful. I wanted to do
this program mainly to get an idea of what it is really like to do
research before jumping into grad school. Though your individual
experience is definitely dependent on your mentor, the lab dynamics,
and the type of lab you’re working in, this program does give a
realistic idea of what research is like, and what graduate school will
be like. We were exposed to many different kinds of people with varying
levels of experience and with different perspectives on research.
Personally, this summer confirmed for me that I do want to go to
graduate school and have a career in research. I definitely learned a
lot. I feel much more confident in my bench skills, but the mentors
also push you to gain a deeper and deeper understanding of the subject
material, so I also feel that my knowledge base has expanded immensely
in such a short period of time.
The people in the program were absolutely fantastic. I was surprised
by how close everyone got so quickly; we were like family by the end. I
think it helps that we all lived together on the same floor. It is a
unique and fun experience to be surrounded by people who all bring
different things to the table, but who all share a keen interest in
science. Being able to talk about your research and lab experience with
people who not only care, but understand, is a great thing.
Charlottesville is also a very cool place with a lot to offer.
Overall this was a great way to spend a summer.
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|Alyssa Brunal - Virginia
The SRIP program was the best
experience of my life so far. I learned so much in the 10 weeks I was
at the University of Virginia and I am so thankful to have been given
this opportunity. Coming into this program I did not know what to
expect. I was a little nervous, as I had just finished my first year of
college, but everyone at the University of Virginia made me feel
welcome and at home. I was unsure if I wanted to do biomedical research
in the future but this program helped me determine that research is
what I want to do. I had a great time working in Dr. Li's Pharmacology
lab and I now feel that I would like to do neuroendocrine research in
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Thanks to everyone in the SRIP program for this wonderful
| Brandy Burgos - The Ohio State University
The Summer Research Internship
Program (SRIP) at the University of Virginia was an enlightening
experience that gave me a new perspective on the realities of science.
Prior to coming here, I had no laboratory experience or real knowledge
of the scientific process other than what I had been taught from my
undergraduates courses. This program taught me a most valuable lesson
which no class room has ever exposed me to: tests will come out
negative and experiments will fail.
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In my lab, I was challenged to think creatively as there were many
times where I had to troubleshoot and modify my experimental designs.
This exposure to failure was exciting though! I wasn’t just performing
experiments and getting expected results. Instead, there were times
where my experiments yielded no results but taught me something new
about the system I was working with.
Whenever stifling obstacles arose, my mentor and those around me were
always very encouraging and motivated my persistence. The knowledge and
experience possessed by others in my lab, and even my peers in the
program, introduced me to a network of ideas that helped move forward
with my work and reinforced the importance of communication in any
The Distinguished Lecture Series portion of the program provided
valuable supplementary information that allowed me to grow and become
an even better scientist over the course of 10 weeks. Additionally,
some of the faculty and graduate students touched on matters beyond
research topics and contemporary methods. People shared their personal
stories and allowed us to get a peek at what life as an MD, PhD, or
MD/PhD student is like. This was a particularly attractive component as
it allowed me to figure out what program I would fit into best.
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 recommend it to all students who are considering
pursing an education beyond a bachelor’s degree.
Nijah Burris -
My summer experience in SRIP has
been an amazing and enriching summer. I have learned skills in the lab
that can be translated to my academic growth and personal well-being. I
learned the importance of being completely knowledgeable about the
research I was doing and being placed in such an academically
stimulating environment I was encouraged to seek alternative
perspectives and opinions on my research. Personally, I learned never
to accept things at face value and to be willing to challenge others'
opinions respectfully and professionally.
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With the guide of my awesome mentors, I learned several techniques and
their applications in research. My lab mates were willing to assist me
in experiments, promote personal growth, and ensure I was comfortable
and knowledgeable of all aspects of my research. I was able to conquer
my fear of handling mice and learn techniques that would be beneficial
to a career in medicine. This experience was an extremely well rounded
Outside of the lab, I developed valuable friendships from individuals
representing all walks of life. Each person was able to teach me so
much and we were able to make the most out of Charlottesville. The food
here is amazing and the small college town has a “make your own fun”
atmosphere and that is exactly what we did.
I thoroughly encourage anyone who is contemplating this internship to
apply! You will definitely receive an internship experience that can
benefit you in all aspects of life! Also the people that you meet here
(students in your program, mentors in your lab, graduate\medical
students, your primary investigator, etc.) will be connections that you
make forever so do not miss out on this awesome opportunity!
|Kamyra Edokpolor - Bryn
The Summer Research Internship Program at UVA is truly
wonderful. I was a bit intimidated as to what to expect because this
was my first lab experience and I was coming from a small liberal arts
college. However, I had a great a experience with a phenomenal PI and a
patient graduate student mentor who was really dedicated to me learning
and taking away as much as possible.
SRIP is wonderful at introducing and furthering the interests of
students who are considering pursuing a career in the scientific field.
Each of the seminars and panels provided by the program, and the
additional exposure provided by the labs, is priceless. I really got an
understanding of what life in research is like and what to expect as I
continue in my academic career. I am grateful for all of the
intelligent, bright minds I have encountered during my time and the
friends and memories I have made.
|Richard Flores - UCLA
I had a great experience here at UVA. My fellow classmates,
although somewhat shy at first, turned out to be incredibly fun and
interesting people. I was pleasantly surprised that so many of them
were eager to ask me questions about my research. That was so
Meeting my SRIP friends was a very rewarding experience because I knew
that I was talking to future scientists and it's an inspiring thought
to know that these highly motivated people will be my colleagues.
|Damaris Gachungi - Lawson State
My experience as a participant in the Summer Research
Internship Program at UVA was incredible. Before coming to
Charlottesville, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the
city would be like, what kind of people I would meet or even what kind
of experience I was about to gain. As a researcher, I learned new lab
techniques and also got to research in an area I didn’t know much about
prior to the internship.
The people that I worked with in my lab were more than willing to
help. They made my experience in the lab worth-while. I enjoyed being
in a program away from my hometown. The friendships and memories I made
are treasured. Everybody being from a different background also made
the program so much more interesting. This is definitely a program
worth applying to.
- Montgomery College
This summer with SRIP was truly the
best summer yet. From meeting the interns for the first time to my
first day in lab to my final presentation, this was an absolutely
amazing experience. I mastered a number of new techniques in the lab
and I became better at articulating my research at our Friday
roundtable meetings. I also learned a lot about the many opportunities
that UVA has to offer through the many training grants that the school
has, and I got a better understanding of what it takes to be in
graduate school. Being exposed to different areas of research at all
our meetings definitely opened my eyes to the many roads that science
can lead me down and I have certainly added UVA to my list of potential
graduate/professional schools because of this.
While everything about the program, including the lovely city of
Charlottesville, was great, the one factor that made this experience
the very best was the people. I became good friends with many of the
interns, all of whom were a pleasure to spend time with. I especially
enjoyed spending time with my wonderful suitemates whose positive
energy and willingness to share in my successes and failures this
summer gave me the drive to keep going when things got difficult. I
will indeed cherish all the moments that we shared together. I would
highly recommend this program to people who not only love science but
who also want to help others and love being around other young
scientists who share their interests.
Marshall Goodwin - Florida Gulf
The SRIP program at UVA is really
great. It exposed me to a graduate level research environment and
reinforced my determination to pursue a career in research. If you are
considering a similar path, a SRIP program is the perfect way to
determine if you have what it takes.
After ten weeks of intense research, you will know for sure if you
want to attend graduate school in the basic sciences. Summer programs
like this are also a great way to see new places and make a good amount
of money. I would definitely recommend it to any undergraduate with a
love for science.
Kevin Lopez ~
University of Virginia
is a magnificent program, and I would recommend that anyone interested
in it should apply. During the semester I only had a limited amount of
time to work in a lab, but by working in the summer I had enough time
to produce some valuable data.
A very unique part of the experience was being in an environment where
everyone was interested in the same subject. Other interns were able to
understand the research I explained, and I also learned about many
different fields of research by listening to what they did. These
relationships with the other interns became some amazing friendships as
we spent time together outside the lab. The program was an overall
great experience that motivates me to possibly continue performing
research in the future.
|Michaela Mertz -
University of Arkansas
I have had an amazing summer being a part of the Summer
Research Internship Program (SRIP). Through this summer I have been
exposed to many research fields and opportunities within those fields.
I was truly impressed with the variety of research being done at UVA.
It has helped me decide I would like to pursue cancer, infectious
disease, or cardiovascular fields in graduate school. Not only that,
but this summer has taught me what to expect in graduate school and
beyond. It has showed me the atmosphere I would like most in graduate
Dr. Janes’ lab had an amazing dynamic that was very representative of
the biomedical engineering department as a whole. Being in this program
has helped encourage me to pursue the PhD program here at UVA for
biomedical engineering. Aside from the research aspect this program has
really showed me how much I enjoy this area in general. The
Charlottesville area is teeming with opportunities like hiking,
kayaking, fishing, and more. For an outdoors person like myself I know
I would always stay entertained here.
The final thing I really enjoyed about this program was the other
participants. At first when I heard I was living with 5 other people in
the same suite I was a bit apprehensive. As we all got to know each
other it turned out to be one of the most fun experiences I have ever
had. I have gotten to meet people from all walks of life and from
different countries. They were such a great group of people. I hope
that I am able to keep in contact with them or maybe even see them
again in a graduate program.
|Krystal Roggerson - Hampton
The Summer Research
Internship Program here at the University of Virginia was a great
opportunity for me to meet students who are interested in research just
as I am. Faculty and students helped me gain some insight into the
wonders of research. This program has also helped me gain a better
understanding of Graduate school and what is involved in getting in and
I would definitely recommend SRIP to any undergraduate student who
wants to explore biomedical research in different areas and from
different perspectives. This was a great experience and I will
definitely cherish the memories that I have shared with my lab and with
the students from the program.
|Cheregn Tegegn - University of Maryland
I had a great summer
research experience at UVA. It was an incredible opportunity for me to
learn and use the different lab materials and research models which I
had never used before. This program helped me to understand better
about graduate school. The seminars and lectures given each week were
Besides the summer research, I developed relationships with SRIP
students who made me comfortable during the entire summer. I would like
to thank the SRIP director and coordinator who gave me this opportunity
to be part of this program. Generally, the program was so amazing and
interesting. I encourage all those who love science to