2019 Summer Research Program Concludes with Student Presentations

surf recipients

Enthusiastic discussions, ranging from drug design to the influence of the microbiome on behavior to the cognition of free will, filled the room as the students participating in the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program presented their work to faculty and fellow students. The summer program, which has been sponsored by the Center for Structural & Functional Neuroscience (CSFN) for more than ten years now, provides students with valuable training and hands-on experience as they pursue research projects in the laboratories of the Center’s neuroscience faculty. This summer’s program was particularly notable because a recent W.M. Keck Foundation grant allowed the program to expand beyond conventional STEM-based experimental efforts and support neuroscience-relevant projects by students in the humanities and arts. As one example, a Media Arts student produced an excellent documentary film on the importance of traumatic brain injury research.

With its origins in a research center, it is not surprising that the undergraduate neuroscience major places such a strong emphasis on research and the process of discovery. At UM, this commitment to Neuroscience research is evident at many levels: encouraging students to work in active research labs, the integration of research concepts into neuroscience courses, and the recent creation of an accelerated 5-year dual B.S/M.S. degree. The best opportunity for significant research experience often occurs during the summer, when students can fully immerse themselves in a project without the distraction of coursework. In many instances these students receive a salary or fellowship from research grants awarded to their mentors or from education and training grants organized by the CSFN, such as the W.M. Keck Foundation award.

The students who received Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships this summer, along with the project title and mentors are listed below.

  • Ashley Bielawski. Mentor: Sarah Certel. Behavioral impacts of the gut microbiome on Drosophila melanogaster
  • Eli Brown. Mentor: Armond Duwell. Thinking and Being: An Analysis of Contemporary Philosophical Claims Based In Neuroscience
  • Kieffer Christianson. Mentor: Nathan Insel. Excitatory-Inhibitory balance in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex: a correlation with social behavior and irrelevance learning
  • Kelsi Grinde. Mentor: Richard Bridges. Kinetic characterization of sulfasalazine as an inhibitor at L-cystine/L-glutamate exchanger system Xc-
  • Jennet Hojanazarova. Mentor: Jesse Hay. Morphological assays to test the functional interdependence of ALG-2 and IP3R3 in Ca2+ regulation of ER to Golgi transport
  • Kristine Kramer. Mentor: Mark Grimes. Intracellular activation of LYN and FYN in wild type versus mutant PAG1TM- neuroblastoma cells
  • Haylie Peacock. Mentor: Cindi Laukes. Traumatic Brain Injury, Why Research is Important (documentary film)
  • Sarah Popp. Mentor: Laurie Slovarp & Sarj Patel. Chronic Cough: Therapy and cough reflex desensitization for the treatment of cough hypersensitivity syndrome
  • Madeline Ulmer. Mentor: Mark Grimes. Removal of PAG1 transmembrane domain effects active SFK sequestration
  • Elizabeth Waterman. Mentor: Kasper Hansen. Role of GluN3A-containing NMDA receptors in spine density


surf group
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) recipients for 2019 (left to right): Haylie Peacock, Ashley Bielawski, Madeline Ulmer, Kelsi Grinde, Jennet Hojanazarova, Kristine Kramer, Kieffer Christianson, Eli Brown.