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Conducting Research at U.S. and Foreign Universities

Grant Programs Fund Students' Summer Scientific Experiences

Aug. 13, 2013

Joshua Silva is spending the summer at the University of Cambridge in England in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program.

Through Cal State Fullerton scholar research programs, students have traveled to other institutions across the country and abroad this summer to hone skills, work with faculty experts, broaden their scope of scientific engagement and experience different cultures.

One of those scholars is undergraduate Joshua Silva, who is at England's University of Cambridge studying collagens as part of the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program. Marcelo Tolmasky, CSUF professor of biological science, directs the program.

Silva is working in the lab of Richard Farndale, Cambridge professor of matrix biochemistry, whose research is on fibrous collagens and their interactions with receptors, typically in the case of blood clotting, he explained.

"The lab has mostly focused on Type III collagens and their interactions, but they want to branch into Type I collagen, which is also a major component of blood vessel tissue. So my part of the research is essentially to launch this effort for them," said Silva, a biological science major. "From there, they will be able to advance the research, as well as patent some protocols for medical research."

Silva, who plans to graduate in 2015, noted that studying abroad has expanded his options to advance his education. "I'm considering doing my doctorate program out here in the UK," said Silva, who wants to pursue a biomedical research career.

"Working on this project is similar to the work I have been doing the last year in Dr. (Math P.) Cuajungco's lab, which involves cell culturing and protein analysis," added Silva, an incoming scholar in the Minority Access to Research Careers program in which he will continue his research with Cuajungco, an associate professor of biological science, this fall. "So overall, this experience is just expanding my knowledge — and my future possibilities."

Summer Student Researchers

MHIRT is funded by a nearly $242,000 National Institutes of Health grant and is supporting 10 scholars this summer, including six from CSUF. The scholars are spending 10 weeks conducting research in the laboratory of their foreign research advisers. The other CSUF students, their cities of residence and where they are conducting research are:

  • Rhea-Lanee Lansang and Lyanna Pillazar, both of Fullerton; and Alexander Woodman, Los Angeles; Chiang Mai University, Thailand

  • Jennifer Makhlouf, Bellflower, Instituto Fundación Leloir, Argentina

  • David Lin , Pomona, University of Oxford, United Kingdom 

The MARC program, directed by Amybeth Cohen, professor of biological science, is supported by a five-year National Institutes of Health grant, expected to total $2.3 million. Two other students who joined the MARC program this summer and delved into research projects at doctoral-granting institutions are:

  • Jennifer Spencer, Rancho Santa Margarita, conducted summer research at Texas A&M University through the Plant-Microbe Interface, a National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. This fall, she will work in the lab of Melanie A. Sacco, assistant professor of biological science.

  • Rebecca Vargas, Fullerton, conducted research at the University of Utah, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, through the 2013 NSF-REU program. Vargas will work in the lab of Maria C. Linder, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, this fall.

Three other first-year MARC scholars conducted research on campus this summer with faculty mentors. They are:

  • Michael Ko, Fullerton, in the lab of Peter de Lijser, professor of chemistry and biochemistry

  • Sean Page, Fullerton, in the lab of Jennifer Trevitt, associate professor of psychology

  • Carissa Romero, Corona, in the lab of Eriko Self, professor of psychology

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & Research