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Student scientists spend summer researching in Buffalo

Dr. Terry Connell, UB

Once again, students from across North America worked through the summer months conducting research in Buffalo biomedical labs. In early August, their work was displayed for review at Biomedical Research Day.

"What's nice about this, it gets the students away to a different locale. The advantage for the research is, of course, they're away from all distractions," said Dr. Terry Connell, UB professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and, as he describes it, "sort of the volunteer coordinator of this entire research day."

Over 100 students displayed posters summarizing their research work at Biomedical Research Day. The event packed the fifth floor of UB's sparkling, new Clinical and Translational Research Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Credit Terry Connell, UB
Jessie Polanco Garcia served as a student presenter for the SURE Program at Biomedical Research Day.

Students from six area programs were on hand for the event:

-Student Research Program at the UB School of Dental Medicine

-Summer Research Experience Program in Cancer Science at Roswell Park Cancer Institute

-T35 Research Program in Infectious Diseases, Microbiology and Immunology at the UB School of Medicine Sciences and Roswell Park Cancer Institute

-Summer Apprentice Program at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute

-Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences Undergraduate Program (CLIMB UP)

-Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURE) at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Credit Dr. Terry Connell, UB
SURE Program student Ashlyn Norris studies at Georgia Tech, but resides in Chautauqua County.

Connell, who is also head of the SURE Program, tells his students, "You don't get rich. It's a $3,000 stipend for the 10 weeks. We pay for their housing on campus."

"As I tell them, you're not going to get rich doing it, but you're going to be here learning something, doing something that's fun and it's a lot better than working at a fast food joint over the summer."

The discussion wasn't about  double cheeseburgers and value combos during Biomedical Research Day. Instead, students spoke passionately and expertly on a wide array of topics like breast cancer, infectious diseases and immune deficiencies.

"Most of the programs, at least the undergraduate programs, we really try to concentrate on the students between their junior and senior years because the idea is we want to give them a taste of research to see if this is what they really want to do," Connell said.

Credit Terry Connell, UB
Sofia Girald, left, conducted research related to breast cancer for the SURE Program. Girald is a student in Puerto Rico.

"Now, for the dental and the T-35 Clinical and Translational students, these are professional students already. They're already in the dental programs and the medical school. The idea for them is trying to bring them into science. You finish medical school and you go out and work in the clinic, etcetera. There's really a paucity of physicians and dentists that really do active research."

Some students come from as far away as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. A random sampling showed that most were impressed by their research programs and by their host community.

Credit Terry Connell, UB
Jillian Escobar hails from Massachusetts and is an undergraduate at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Escobar spent the summer in Buffalo researching for the SURE Program.

"I really enjoyed this place," said Maidelisse Olivieri-Betancourt, a SURE Program participant from Puerto Rico. "And I really enjoyed the investigation that I did. It's really fun. I would like to come back for my PhD."