Haiying (Emma) Chen
| Country: China (university in Australia), 2013
Mentor: Jin Chen
Hi! I am Emma Chen from China. I am currently a student of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne and I am completing my bachelor degree at the end of this year.
My interests in biomedical science are specifically Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, and I am really lucky to join Prof. Jin Chen’s lab in a project to establish new therapies for lung cancer by manipulating the Eph receptors, the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinase. It is not only a wonderful combination of my interests, but also an excellent way to consolidate my knowledge in theory as well as to learn laboratory techniques.
I am very excited about being a member of the VISRA 2012 (southern hemisphere summer) because we are offered unique opportunities to experience life as research students at a prestigious university and also to find out pathways for future studies or research in the United States. It is a great university with rich resources, extensive networking in academia and the industry, and vibrant people. We are very well taken care of by VISRA organizers and this program is definitely recommended.
|Country: Australia, 2013
Mentor: Alyssa Hasty
My name is Courtney Cini, and I am a student from the University of Melbourne, Australia. On my return, I intend to successfully complete my final year of undergraduate studies-with a major in Pharmacology. After my degree, I would like to continue my studies. However, at this stage, I am still in the process of deciding the path I am going to pursue.
Throughout my internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, I will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of Dr. Alyssa Hasty, a dedicated investigator in the Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Department at this institution. This will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting and fortunate life journeys that I will ever experience.
The focus of the Hasty lab is on the role of macrophages in adipose tissue (AT) and their contribution to adipose tissue inflammation resulting in the development of insulin resistance (IR) and type 2 diabetes. Recently, the Hasty lab has become interested in inflammatory macrophage accumulation and the mechanisms that regulate this process. The lab is currently focused on decreased apoptosis as a mechanism by which inflammatory macrophage accumulation is increased in the obese state. The aim of my project will be to determine whether anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory macrophages display differences in susceptibility to apoptosis. This will encompass a range of techniques related to tissue cultures, cell treatments, protein isolation, Western Blotting and confocal immunofluorescent studies of adipose tissue.
Not only is this program going to enhance my laboratory techniques, methods and research experience, but it will also serve as a strong foundation for further research studies on my return to Australia, and possibly, back here at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Furthermore, it has always been a dream for me to do research in a different country- and at the moment, I am living that dream!
I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who has an interest for medical research. My experience at Vanderbilt has only just begun and all I can say is that it is already beyond words! The beauty of Vanderbilt and the city of Nashville, in general, is astonishing.
Finally, I was humbled by the warm welcome that I received from everyone at the institution, especially from the VISRA team. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Kathy Gould (Director of VISRA), Amanda Connolly (VISRA coordinator), Dr. Alyssa Hasty (Principal Investigator) and the rest of the VISRA team for transforming my dream into a reality.
ZunMing (Hunter) Lim
|ZunMing (Hunter) Lim, 2013
Country: Malaysia (university in Australia)
Mentor: Doug McMahon
Hi there, I am ZunMing. I finished my high school back in Malaysia, and subsequently did a Western Australian Foundation in Perth and then continued on to pursue a Bachelor of Science majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne. I had just finished my second year in my BSc at the time of VISRA. I have always loved Science, and by Year 10, I fell in love with the brain specifically and decided to accept the challenge of solving the puzzle of how the brain works. This was an easy –to-pose question, but the path to finding an answer has taken researchers and scientists on a challenging yet rewarding journey ever since. And I wanted to be on that journey as well.
I knew I wanted to do Science. What I wanted to find out was whether I could do Science for a lifetime, I guess. And VISRA was just the program that would answer that question.
This summer (or winter), I have been lucky enough to be accepted and placed in Dr. Doug McMahon’s lab. His lab focuses on three linked systems in the Central Nervous System, the visual, circadian and serotonergic systems that are the engines that govern our sight, bodily daily rhythms and regulate our moods. I do not yet possess the complete details on the specific project that I will be a part of, but I am definitely excited to know that these brain systems are fundamental in furthering our understanding of disorders such as schizophrenia, winter depression, bipolar disorders and myopia. On top of that, I am sure I will enjoy learning the variety of lab techniques practised in the lab, such as gene knock-outs and reporter genes. I have never actually done any research work before, and I am as exhilarated as I am daunted by it all .
For fear of giving away too much details of the program (as I personally would hate it if somebody ruined a good surprise by telling me exactly what to expect), I definitely must say VISRA does a good job of balancing the research experience with the non-academic stuff. There is a good amount of excursions and sports (Go basketball!) and sight-seeing mixed in, and the VISRA team is just amazing and really helpful. There is just a wonderful and supportive network here and I am sure that gives peace of mind for anyone who is trying something new. It was also a real eye-opener to come to US and see how the education system works here and understand how PhD is done here in Vanderbilt.
As for the city, I feel that Nashville is just the right fusion between city and town. I love the buildings – brick buildings that are no more than two-storey tall gracefully spaced and spanning down a slightly winding road with just the right dose of modern architecture peppered in between. The city is growing, alive with beer, music and culture. The bus fares are cheaper than I imagined and I seriously think every bus driver that I’ve met is either very friendly or a comedian-in-disguise. The people are equally nice, and I would say that the cost of living is very affordable too. If I have one thing to say about VISRA, it’s this: Apply for it! As for myself, no matter how my research experience turns out and I discover whether I like researching as a career or not, I am happy that I’m here, that I’ve tried and that I’ve had the experience. If you have quickly skim-read to this part and do not appreciate the length of my rambling, it would suffice to read the above paragraph. No hard feelings. Cheers.
Country: New Zealand, 2013
|Country: Peru, 2013
Mentor: Rebecca Ihrie
My name is Susana Castro, I come from Peru and I just finished my bachelor degree in Biology and Chemistry at the Cayetano Heredia University.
I like to think of science as solving a puzzle. In the case of biomedical science, this puzzle is really important to a person’s life. That’s why I am so interested in the biomedical research, especially in the host-parasite interaction, molecular and cell biology of cancer and Neuroscience.
In Peru, I have been working with parasites and thanks to the VISRA program, I am able to exploring others areas of my interest. Currently, I am working in the Cancer Biology Department, in Dr. Rebecca’s Ihrie Lab which is focused in the development of the neural stem cell niche and the etiology and treatment of brain tumors.
So far my experience in Nashville is incredible, the people here is so kind and hospitable. The city is so peaceful and yet so modern, So for the Next VISRA participants, if you want to became a biomedical researcher, the VISRA program is a great point to start your career. If you are not sure about it, take this program as an good opportunity to find that out. Take advantadge of this experience.
|Country: New Zealand, 2013
Mentor: Randy Blakely
I have recently completed a Bachelor of Science specialising in Biomedical Science at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. In this degree I focussed on cellular and molecular biomedicine, as well as pursuing my interests in neuroscience and genetics. In 2013 I will continue my education at the University of Auckland in the form of a Bachelor of Science with Honours, again specialising in Biomedical Science. For this programme, I will complete a dissertation that looks at the molecular mechanism by which anaesthesia disrupts the biological clock using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. After my honours year, I intend to pursue a PhD in either the US or the UK.
The VISRA programme is an amazing opportunity to experience US culture, student life and learn more about the education system, particularly graduate school. Nashville is definitely the best city I have ever been to and I am really enjoying the kindness and approachability of the locals. The Vanderbilt campus is beautiful and is very large compared to my home university! During my time at Vanderbilt I am working in the laboratory of Randy Blakely, in which I will be using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans to identify genes involved in dopamine transport. I am really looking forward to the rest of the VISRA programme and the research that I will be doing.
|Sovia Brown (2012)
VU Mentor: Maureen Hahn
My name is Sovia Brown and I recently completed my Bachelor of Basic Medical Science Degree in Pharmacology at the University of the West Indies Mona campus, located in Jamaica.
Biomedical research has always been an interest of mine and so when my lecturer told me of the VISRA program at Vanderbilt University, I decided to apply as I thought the experience would help me in deciding my future in research. Here in the VISRA program I am working with Dr. Maureen Hahn in the division of Genetic Medicine, whose research is geared toward understanding the physiology of Norepinephrine (NE) signaling with special attention to the impact of NE dysregulation on psychiatric (depression) and cardiovascular diseases.
My experience in Nashville has been wonderful thus far. The beauty of Vanderbilt is astonishing and the resources available to do research are just amazing. The environment in the lab is professional and comfortable and pushes you to want to do better. I would recommend future international students not only to consider participating in the program but also to consider attending this institution to participate in great research.
|Vaibhav Chauhan (2012)
VU Mentor: Jim Patton
I am Vaibhav from India, currently pursuing Bachelors in the field of Biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology- Roorkee, India. I am a final year student with interests in drug designing,epigenetics and miRNA and I was fortunate enough to get a chance to work under the expert guidance and really well equipped laboratory of Dr James Patton.
I am working on the role of miRNA in retinal regeneration of zebrafish and I am really liking it. I know the interest does matter a lot to enjoy any research environment but the mentionable thing is the friendly nature of people here in my laboratory, and the experience I will be taking back from this lab will definitely teach me a lot, not just about science but about professional behavior in a work place, laboratory in my case. I am really thankful to Mahesh, Kamya, Zusi and everyone else in my laboratory for creating an environment which is nurturing my personality and feeding my young inquisitive brain in the best possible way which is surely going to open new vistas of research options for me in future.
About the program VISRA, wow!!! That’s the first word which comes to my mind. Seriously, if I start mentioning the reasons why this program is awesome I will have troubles putting an end to the list.
Some of the features of this program that make it unique include trips to all the amazing places in Nashville and really useful Mentoring sessions from Amanda and Dr Kathy Gould, one need to be there to imagine the importance of these sessions, for which all of us are really thankful to them. For all those students who are considering to take GRE for getting enrolled in a PhD program, they have the GRE prep classes as well, you can take GRE during this summer and guess what, VISRA will get everything set for you including the GRE fees, isn’t that great!!!
I really want to mention the hospitality of people here in USA, I was kind of concerned regarding how will I get going in a new country, new culture and new people, but the way I have been treated so far in USA, it doesn’t seem like a new place at all and infact I believe that I have learnt a lot from in general behavior of people here. About Nashville, well I would say it’s a very special place with its unique culture, country music, music concerts and of course the people, making my stay a whole lot exciting here in Vanderbilt University .
I am pretty sure that I will be leaving this place with a bag full of unforgettable memories, research experience, a lot of laboratory techniques and professional behavior which irrespective of what I do in future are going prove really useful in fulfilling my endeavours . I would like to thank everyone associated with VISRA from the bottom of my heart and hope they continue to provide students across the world with this lifetime opportunity of coming to Vanderbilt University.
|Maria Fomicheva (2012)
VU Mentor: Irina Kaverina
My name is Maria Fomicheva, I am a student of Cell Biology and Histology Department of Biology Faculty at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia. Now I am at my last year of study in the University and I hope to prolong my education and work in the field of cell biology.
At Vanderbilt University I work in the Kaverina lab. I participate in project which focuses on investigation whether/how Golgi-derived microtubules direct insulin granule transport for beta cells in case of normal functioning and diabetes. Also my goal is to comprehend how Golgi-derived microtubules influence Golgi apparatus assembly after his dismantling with nocodazole.
Rajaraman Gopalakrishnan (2012)
**Rajaraman will be starting his PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Harvard University in Fall 2013
|Magdalena Kratochvilova (2012)
Country: Czech Republic
VU Mentor: Alissa Weaver
Hi! I am Magdalena Kratochvílová from Praue, Czech Republic. I am in the first year of my master study in Cell biology at Charles University in Prague. It means that next year I should finish my master's degree. After that I would like to continue my studies and apply for a Ph.D. Since 2010 I have been working in the Laboratory of Cancer Cells Invasiveness. And because I am interested in an issue of cancer cell migration and invasion, I am delighted, that I had the opportunity to joined Alissa Weaver´s laboratory here at Vanderbilt and work on related topics.
The overall goal of the project is to determine how different matrix characteristic affects cell behavior, invasiveness and morphology. My work mainly involves 2D and 3D invasion assays with panel of breast cancer cell lines with different aggressiveness.
And in terms of VISRA, I think that VISRA is a really unique program, that gives you an amazing opportunity to not only learn methods and gain new lab experiences, but also to get know what research and education looks like in the U.S., make new friends and of course also to enjoy the time in Nashville.
|Michael Margineanu (2012)
VU Mentor: David Cortez
My name is Michael, I come from Romania (Dracula’s land) and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany.
|Alina Soto Obando (2012)
VU Mentor: Alyssa Hasty
My name is Alina Soto and I am studying Biology in Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru. Even though I’m still an undergraduate student, I’m definitely considering enrolling in a PhD. program here. I’m profoundly interested in biomedical research; I’m especially interested in cellular and metabolic pathways and genetic expression involving cancer and autoimmune diseases. In Peru I’m part of the Bioinformatics team so VISRA is giving me the opportunity to be involved with different biochemistry techniques which will allow me to enhance my research skills, both theoretical and applied.
I’m so pleased to say that I’m working in PhD. Alyssa Hasty’s lab. At the beginning coming to a new place made me a little shy and a bit edgy but eventually I felt more and more comfortable thanks to the people from my lab, especially with the lab meetings (one per week). The way we discuss topics, share knowledge and viewpoints, bringing forth various aspects of a topic opens the floodgates of imagination for me. Biology or any science in general demands multidisciplinary approach, which for me begins with those lab meetings and somehow everything seems to make sense afterwards. My summer project is focused on the apoptosis rate of macrophages in the adipose tissue. I know that this summer program will allow me to learn practical lab work and research skills that are going to prove beneficial for me in the years to follow.
VISRA is an amazing program that involves, for example, enrichment sessions which provide you with all the information you need for applying to any research program in US, they give you an insight of what university looks for while reviewing a graduate application. The program also involves everything about GRE, ranging from what it is to actually prepare you to take it. I think that it will be pertinent to say that VISRA is teaching us to strike a balance in our life both inside and outside lab. So the trips that are arranged every weekend totally recharge you for the challenges to follow.
Last but not least, as an advice to any future participants: just relax, you’re heading towards some great time in Nashville, the place is beautiful and the other participants make you feel home, even though they are from different nations. And just try to make the best of this golden opportunity because, believe me, it’s going to do wonders to your life ahead.
| Liu Shiyang (2012)
VU Mentor: Jin Chen
I am Liu Shiyang from China, currently studying at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. I am majoring in Biological Sciences and have a fervent interest in cancer biology, especially the role of signal transductions in cancer. Doing research in a different country with different cultures and research environments has always been one of my dreams for my undergraduate life, as I am sure the experience will broaden my horizons and the differences will help me do more reflections on my future career. Thanks to VISRA, it provides me the great and invaluable opportunity to conduct an eight-week research project at beautiful Vanderbilt University.
This summer, I am very fortunate to be able to join Dr. Chen's lab to investigate the efficacy of EphA2 receptor kinase inhibitors in lung cancer and study the possible resistance mechanisms of cancer cells for targeted therapy. Although eight-weeks is really short for a research project, it is always possible that Impossible is Nothing, and I will try my best to work on it. I am sure the experience will not only open my eyes and minds to new research techniques and ideas, I will also be inspired by the researchers around me to learn the essential qualities to be a scientist.
Being at one of the top medical schools in the states and working at a medical center, I am excited to find that biomedicine has never been so close to me. Working on a project related to cancer therapy, working with people who are from medical schools or delicated to pursue medicine, meeting doctors and residents everywhere around the campus, the experience will definitely help me consider deeply why and how to pursue a career as a physician-scientist.
Outside the lab, we have mentoring sessions every week from the faculty members, which are great opportunities for us to talk to the scientists face to face to learn their experiences in scientific research. There are also outings arranged by VISRA every Saturday for us to explore the fun and beauty of Nashville. VISRA is really a great summer research program that deeply cares and helps students who are interested in biomedical research.
**Shiyang will be starting the Duke-Singapore MD/PhD program in Fall 2013
|Michal Sykora (2012)
Country: Czech Republic
VU Mentor: Ryoma “Puck” Ohi
Hi! My name is Michal Sykora and I am from the Czech Republic. I’m studying Genetics, Molecular Biology and Virology in a master’s degree program at Charles University in Prague. I finished my bachelor’s studies of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Organisms at the same university last year. Since 2009, I've beenworking on my master’s thesis with yeast killer plasmids in Laboratory of RNA Biochemistry at Charles University.
Here at Vanderbilt, I was given the opportunity to work unde rthe guidance of Dr. Ryoma ”Puck” Ohi in the Laboratory of Cell Division and I am enjoying it so far. My summer project concerns examination of microtubule-nucleating properties of kinetochores in animal tissue culture cells using analysis of fixed cell imaging and live cell imaging. I was basically hoping to broaden my horizons in research options and getting adjusted to the foreign environment. Thus far it’s going pretty well.
|Jarmila Tvaruzkova (2012)
VU Mentor: Steve Fesik
My name is Jarmila Tvaruzkova and I come from Slovakia. This upcoming fall I will be in my third and final year of undergraduate studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech republic. I major in biochemistry and I participate in research of Dr. Petr Folk’s group in Department of Cell Biology. Since I am graduating next spring, I will be soon submitting my applications to graduate schools in the USA and Czech republic.
Here at Vanderbilt University I joined laboratory of Dr. Stephen Fesik which focuses on cancer drug discovery using fragment-based approaches and structure-based design. I work with Dr. Mary Carroll on expression and purification of bromodomains, protein domains recognizing ε-N-acetylated lysine residues, for fragment-based 1H-15N HSQC NMR screen and further cancer therapeutics design.
VISRA is a unique program for international students and a wonderful opportunity to experience American university environment before you decide you want to apply for a graduate school in the USA.
|Vladislava Vlckova (2012)
Country: Czech Republic
VU Mentor: Neil Osheroff
Hello! My name is Vladislava Vlckova and I come from the Czech Republic. I have just finished the first year of my Master studies at Charles University in Prague in field “Molecular biology, genetics and virology”; Bachelor degree I received at the same place. In Prague I work in the Laboratory of Regulation of Gene Expression at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic headed by Leos Valasek, Ph.D., where we are focused mainly on the initiation of translation in eukaryotes. Concerning my master thesis project, it deals with the role of eIF3a in mRNA recruitment in yeasts during translation initiation.
At Vanderbilt University I have joined the laboratory of Neil Osheroff, Ph.D., from department of Biochemistry. This lab is specialized on function and biology of DNA topoisomerases which is very useful for various antibiotic and anticancer drugs development. My summer project will involve the characterization of topoisomerase IV from E.coli and identification of various topoisomerase – drug interactions. It sounds really interesting so far and I am sure it will extend my scientific horizons.I am really glad I got the chance to participate in VISRA program and I have been enjoying it since the first days. All people we have met here are really nice and all the activities we can attend are very well organized. VISRA gives everybody the opportunity not only to participate in very good research and learn new techniques, but also meet interesting people, visit new places and enjoy fun with other VISRA participants.
|Daniel Fernando Zegarra Ruiz (2012)
VU Mentor: Luc Van Kaer
I am Daniel F. Zegarra Ruiz and I’m, currently, a 4th year Biology and Pharmacy and biochemistry undergraduate student at the Peruvian university Cayetano Heredia. In the near future, as I am close to achieving my bachelor’s degree and due to my passion for applied immunology, I plan to apply for a PhD program and pursue a scientific career.
I’ve always been interested in immunology and fortunately, here at Vanderbilt, I have the chance to work at Dr. Luc Van Kaer’s laboratory under the tutoring of Ph.D. Vrajesh Vasantkumar Parekh. In his laboratory, Dr. Van Kaer and his research group investigate about NKT cells and their influence on autoimmune diseases among other pathologies. Throughout these 8 weeks I’ll try to become skilled in several immunological techniques, develop myself as a researcher and find out the dos and don’ts in science and investigation.
I applied to the Vanderbilt International Summer Research Academy because I aim to be a biomedical researcher and when I found out that I was selected I knew my goals could be accomplished. When I first arrived in Nashville, the organization and peacefulness of the city amazed me…Such a modern yet environmental place. If I had any advice for anyone interested in this program it would be to enjoy, learn and never stop pursuing a dream; and if that dream is becoming a biomedical researcher, then Vanderbilt is a great place to start.
|Diana Brauswetter (2011)
VU Mentor: Ron Emeson
I am a medical student in my 6th and final year at the Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. After completing my medical degree, I have decided to pursue a PhD in biomedical research. In Hungary, I have been investigating diabetes risk factors, focusing on the role of miRNA involvement in type II diabetes.
During these 8 weeks in the VISRA program I have been working in the Emeson Lab, studying miRNA editing during zebrafish development. The VISRA program has been a great opportunity for me to gain more experience in research, learn new methods, and to get acquainted with the American PhD system. I have had the opportunity to meet PhD students and postdocs who have given me great advice to help me plan for my future.
Sheridan Carrington (2011)
**Sheridan will be joining the Vanderbilt International Scholar Program and starting his PhD in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program at Vanderbilt in August 2013.
|Kim Dierkes (2011)
VU Mentor: Al Reynolds
My name is Kim Dierkes and I am one of the three German summer students doing an internship at Vanderbilt University.
I was very fortunate to have Dr. Albert Reynolds as my mentor and work in his lab for my 8 weeks in Nashville. His group is mostly concerned with p120-catenin of cadherin mediated cell-cell junctions which is believed to play an important role in the formation of metastasis of tumorigenic cells. Working in this lab was very valuable to me as it was the first time I was able to do actual research on a project I am truly interested in. But I did not only enjoy my project a lot but also the extremely warm and friendly research team I became a part of. I had a great time!
When returning to Germany I will have one more year to complete my Bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Jacobs University Bremen. Afterwards I would like to continue my studies. However, I am not yet certain which type of degree I would like to pursue. Since I am highly interested in both biomedical research, cancer biology to be exact, as well as patient care, I am currently collecting information about the advantages, possibilities and requirements of an MD/ PhD.
In retrospect I have to say that I learned a lot during VISRA. Apart from the many technical skills I was able to acquire, talking to my coworkers and other researchers and listening to their career stories impressed me the most. I came to realize that quite a few brilliant researchers have not taken the straight path of BSc, PhD, postdoc, etc. but rather took some detours in order to arrive at a job that they love and are fantastic at. This was surprising to me but helped me to be less scared of making "the wrong choice". Because in the end you will most certainly find the job you love.
And this is exactly my advice to others thinking about applying to VISRA. Stop worrying too much. You do not have to make a decision for the rest of your life now. Do what you are interested in and eventually everything falls into place.
|Vibol Heng (2011)
VU Mentor: Ethan Lee
My name is Vibol Heng. I am from Cambodia, a small country in South-East Asia. After I finished high school in Cambodia, I came to the U.S. as an undergraduate student. I spent my first two years at Grambling State University before starting my junior year as a transfer student at Yale University in the fall of 2011 majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (B.S).
Research has always been something that I love, and the research in the field of Neurobiology and Cancer greatly appeals to me. In the future, I plan to get into a MD/PhD program where I can combine my interest in both medicine and research. Currently, I am a summer research intern in Dr. Ethan Lee’s lab in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. My research involves the study of protein turnover in the Notch pathway, the important cell signaling pathway whose disruption results in developmental defect such as cancer.
Nashville is a beautiful city, and Vanderbilt Medical Center is a wonderful place with great research facilities. During the program, I am exposed to many areas of research and get to learn more about the process of graduate school application through weekly Journal Club and Enrichment Seminars. More importantly, I get to know many people from different countries and cultures. I highly recommend VISRA to all undergraduate students who are passionate about research. This hands-on research opportunity will offer you a wonderful summer experience that you will never forget.
Sara Kalman (2011)
**Sara returned to Vanderbilt under the Short-Stay Fellowship Program in Summer 2012 and continues to collaborate with Dr. Karoly Mirnics on projects started during her time at VISRA.
|Zhuoran Li (2011)
VU Mentor: David Miller
My name is Zhuoran Li. I am from the People’s Republic of China and currently attending Boston College, pursuing Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. I am interested in getting a M.D. degree in the future.
This summer, I am doing research in developmental biology at David Miller’s lab, investigating the neural system of the nematode C. elegans, specifically how certain mutations influence the way neurons choose their synaptic partners.
Since coming to VISRA and Nashville, I have discovered a lot about the city of Nashville, a city full of culture, music, and the charm of the south. There are a lot of great places to check out around the area. For the next group of VISRA students, I would like to tell them that don’t regard the purpose of this program as purely doing research, but also as expanding your view about the U.S. and its educational opportunities and gaining valuable international experiences.
|Michael Lueckmann (2011)
VU Mentor: Jens Meiler
My name is Michael Lueckmann and I am a biochemistry undergraduate student from University of Leipzig, Germany. I will have finished the second year of my three-year bachelor program soon, starting preparations for my bachelor's thesis in a few months. My scientific interest is in the different types and mechanisms of protein-ligand interactions and how they are determined by structure and sequence. For my future, I am planning to earn the PhD, aiming for a scientific career.
At Vanderbilt, I am working in the laboratory of Dr. Jens Meiler, which is focused on computational structural biology and therefore my project is not experimental but computational. During the seven weeks in the Meiler lab, I am testing the hypothesis of protein structural symmetry due to gene duplication and fusion on an aquaporin. For that purpose, the protein is symmetrized and redesigned using the protein simulation algorithm ROSETTA.
In the first weeks, I was astonished by the welcoming and uncomplicated atmosphere in my lab and how the people deal relaxed and candidly with each other while working in this really hard scientific business. For the future VISRA participants, I can tell you that the first days in the new working environment can be confusing and frustrating but communicating a lot can really help in avoiding misconceptions and getting a good daily routine in the lab.
|Konstantin Richter (2011)
VU Mentor: Seva Gurevich
My name is Konstantin and I study biochemistry at Leipzig University in Germany. I am in my second year at university and I will graduate as a bachelor of science in 2012. After my first graduation I plan to do a master of science in biochemistry (or any related subject) as well as a PhD (in Germany, a master's degree is a requirement to do a PhD).
Here at Vanderbilt I work in Dr. Seva Gurevich's lab. This lab is currently working on arrestin proteins, which play an important role in the signaling pathway of GPCR's (G-protein coupled receptors). All people in my lab including the PhD students, my mentor Luis Gimenez, and other post-doc's are very open-minded, friendly and helpful. My first fear was to be the fifth wheel, but when I got to know my colleagues I realized that I am fully integrated into the lab's work. Biomedical research is not exactly what I want to do in my future, but the practical work in the Gurevich lab helped me to figure out how science and research really works. Getting in touch with the practical lab work, making mistakes and realizing that research is not straight forward are good experiences that I will take back home. I hope to find my way into metabolic biochemistry or bioorganic chemistry in the future to make my contribution to science.
|Sukrati Sharma (2011)
VU Mentor: Dan Liebler
My name is Sukrati Sharma and I'm from India. I am currently into my final year of undergraduate studies in Bachelors of chemistry at Hindu college, University of Delhi,India. Ever since my childhood I always had a passion towards science. I have always dreamed of becoming a research scientist at a premier institute where I can earn credibility and not just credentials, and I have realized Vanderbilt is the perfect place for it.
For this summer, I am working in Dr. Daniel Liebler's lab. My lab focuses firstly on proteomic biomarkers for cancer detection and diagnosis and secondly on analysis and mechanisms of cell injury by reactive electrophiles through mass spectrometry. For my summer research I'll be working on comparing cell lines between HPV (human papillomavirus) positive and HPV negative. My experience at Vanderbilt till now has been great with really cooperative labmates. As it's my first research experience, my lab has accepted me as a new learner. I have learnt a wide variety of new things in my lab, and I'm glad I made the right choice in choosing my lab.
Vanderbilt is the best place to pursue higher studies because of its close interaction of students with the faculty, impressive research facilities and wide variety of research fields. I have a great interest towards biochemistry and I'm looking forward to earn a PhD degree for the same at Vanderbilt. VISRA has helped me decide my future career path through various enrichment sessions and journal clubs. VISRA has also made me enjoy through Saturday trips to various places like Mammoth Caves, Cheekwood etc.
I find Nashville one of the best cities I have ever visited. The environment is really comfortable. The country music is extraordinary and admirable. For future VISRA participants I would advice them to communicate with others as much as possible and this is the perfect time to make a future plan and Vanderbilt is the best place to work upon it.
Zuzana Tatarova (2011)
**Zuzana began her PhD studies at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland in Fall 2012
|Petar Stupar (2011)
VU Mentor: Eva Harth
Hi! My name is Petar, and I am student of Physical Chemistry at the University of Belgrade in Serbia. In a few months time I will have a Bachelor Degree in Physical Chemistry, and by the end of the year 2011, I will start with Master Courses in Biophysical Chemistry. After that, I am planning to pursue a PhD.
At Vanderbilt University as VISRA participant, in Dr. Eva Harth’s lab, I am studying drug delivery systems for improved cancer chemotherapy. I am developing polymers for nanoparticle encapsulation of hydrophobic drugs and investigating the chemical biology of drug synergy for optimum therapeutic effectiveness in in vitro and in vivo models.
Conducting research with excellent scientists in modern laboratories is a must in gathering experience for the future career. Being a summer research student at Vanderbilt University is a great opportunity for expanding knowledge and preparing for continuation of studies. There are many research areas, but the biomedical field of study is well-known and top-rated in USA, so I would suggest anyone who is familiar with the English language and interested in life sciences, to apply for a great experience and a very good start for paving the way for a future career.
Besides being involved in science, of course, there is always time for having fun. In Nashville, known as Music City, you can get to know various kinds of music. There are many things to see and to do, and the nightlife is awesome!.
|Katarina Vaskovicova (2011)
VU Mentor: Alissa Weaver
Hello! My name is Katarina Vaskovicova. I come from Slovakia, but I currently study in Czech Republic at Charles University in Prague. I got a bachelors degree in the major “Molecular biology and biochemistry of organisms“ and now I'm in the second year of my masters studies, major “Cell and developmental biology“.
In Prague, I work in a lab headed by RN Dr. Jan Brabek, Ph.D., where we investigate the migration and invasiveness of cancer cells, and this is the area that I would like to pursue also in the future.
Here, in Vanderbilt, I joined the lab led by Alissa Weaver, M.D., Ph.D., in the Department of Cancer Biology. The aim of my work is to start a project of determination of matrix protease secretion and basement membrane protein secretion of cancer cell lines with different invasive potential.
Participating in VISRA is a great experience for me. I have an opportunity to do interesting research with great scientists. But I learn many more things than new methods in lab. I am getting to know how my new lab and how the institution of Vanderbilt works and now I understand the science in a practical way a bit more.
And what is my advice for future VISRA participants? Just enjoy your research in here, but don't forget to relax after your work and try to spend your free time with other VISRA participants as much as possible, you easily become very good friends.