Federal, Foundation Grants Support Summer Undergraduate Research at UK

This summer 17 undergraduate students came to UK to participate in and learn about biomedical-related research. They took part in two 10-week programs: Summer Undergraduate Research in Environmental Sciences (SURES) and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

SURES and SURF are directed by Hollie Swanson, a professor in the UK College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. 

SURES is federally funded for five years by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and supports student research on environmental exposures (heavy metals, organics, soil-based pathogens, nanomaterials, tobacco smoke and radon) and environmentally associated diseases (cancer, neuropathy, diabetes and obesity).

Supported by the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) and the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, the SURF program focuses on pharmacological research on cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and neuroscience. The SURF program is one of only 20 across the country.

The 17 students, from UK, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, and University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky and Theil College in Pennsylvania, were selected from 50 applicants with a GPA of at least 3.0, prior or demonstrated research experience and an interest in biomedical careers. SURES and SURF include hands-on research in a UK faculty member's laboratory, weekly discussions on research and careers, and field trips. At the end of the programs, students participate in a poster session.

Swanson said, “What I wanted to do is to introduce rising juniors and seniors to the whole idea of science. So that they understand the importance of science, why we do science, even if they never become scientists, so that they’re better informed citizens.”

Veronica Nwahiri, a junior chemistry major from Eastern Kentucky University, said she plans to be a pharmacist and specialize in chemotherapeutic drugs. “They gave me some really great advice for my future career goals. I plan to do more research and this was just a foot in the research field.”              

Kyle Luo, a junior biology major from UK, said, “It really gave me a good understanding of how the research process in general works—from idea formation, to experimental design, to actually getting the results and putting it together. I want to present at some conferences, hopefully. I don’t really want to stop here, I want to keep going.”

For more information on SURES and SURF, visit the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences website.