Medical advantage

This is the seventh year of the unique LFC-RFUMS summer scholars program that has provided research opportunities to more ...
June 23, 2015

This is the seventh year of the LFC-RFUMS Summer Scholars Program that has provided diverse biomedical research opportunities to more than 70 Lake Forest College students since 2009.

Professor of Biology Shubhik DebBurman co-directs the program and explained that this year nineteen students will be working with sixteen medical school faculty from seven medical school departments at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, which is only ten minutes from the college by car or train. Students will work alongside graduate students, postdoctoral scientists and health professionals, gaining access to topnotch equipment and technologies. Thirteen faculty have worked with our students before, and three are new mentors to the program.

RFUMS Professor of Pharmacology Dr. J. Amiel Rosenkranz has mentored eight LFC students since the program began, with several completing senior theses with him. When asked why he continues to seeks out LFC students, Dr. Rosenkranz states, “The LFC undergraduates in my lab have continued to impress me with their enthusiasm. In addition, they ask excellent questions for which we have no answer. These questions sometimes initiate fruitful new avenues of research”. Not surprisingly, four students have already become published authors with him.

Hannah Samberg ’16, Neuroscience and Asia Studies senior, is currently conducting her senior thesis with Dr. Rosenkranz. She shares, “Undergraduate research is an essential aspect of preparing for a career in medicine. From developing a unique research question, completing extensive background research, and forming a hypothesis and experimental design, to carrying out the actual research and analyzing results, the process fosters innovation and creativity, demands patience and critical thinking, and allows an undergraduate student to work in a collaborative environment with the support of medical school students, PhDs, and medical school professors. Working at Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine and Science has enabled me to be mentored and guided by faculty who have first hand knowledge about students in medical school.  Their supplemental support complements advising by undergraduate advisors.  I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to conduct research at RFUMS; it has heightened my understanding of what medical school will be like and made me excited to apply and work towards my end goal of becoming a psychiatrist.”

Groner Scholar Jeremy Berg ’17, Neuroscience junior, will not only do research at RFUMS with his mentor Chair and Professor Cell Biology and Anatomy Dr. William Frost, he will also spend several weeks at the prestigious Friday Harbor Laboratories at the University of Washington, as part of this mentored research experience. He reflects, “I plan on attending medical school after I graduate, and this fits into my long term career plans because it has opened new doors for me; by allowing myself to build relationships with medical school professors, as well as getting to know the medical school itself. Also, this opportunity has given me an interest in conducting research, and I think it would be a possibility for me to pursue an MD/PhD. Overall, this opportunity has helped me become better equipped for medical school or graduate school, and it has given me an idea of what laboratory research is like. I recommend that science majors become involved in research, and to learn more about what it is like to work in a lab setting. It is a very rewarding experience, and the things you learn will benefit you in the future, no matter which direction you go.”

<em>Neuroscience sophomore Trevor Buhr ’18 and his faculty mentor RFUMS Professor Robert Marr are studying Alzheimer's disease.</em>Neuroscience sophomore Trevor Buhr ’18 and his faculty mentor RFUMS Professor Robert Marr are studying Alzheimer's disease.“2015 is our largest and most diverse class of LFC-RFUMS scholars,” DebBurman said. “We are incredibly lucky to have this one-of-a-kind collaboration between a medical school and a national liberal arts college. It emphasizes how institutional location and access can produce a unique edge to the career development preparation of our large cohort of pre-health students. Since its inception, the program has expanded the college’s ability to provide high quality research experiences to life science majors, helping meet a heavy demand from our students for such opportunities.”

Rising sophomore Trevor Buhr ’18, neuroscience major, has just begun his first research experience with his mentor Professor of Neuroscience Rober Marr. He states: “I was drawn to the “up close and personal” perspective on how science works. I wanted to see how experiments, lab techniques, and theory all comes together to produce scientific innovation and human advancement. Working at RFUMS has given me a fantastic look into the medical and scientific world and only motivates me more to continue on a path to establish a long term career in the sciences.

For neuroscience junior, Lily Veldran ’17, this is her second year doing undergraduate research at a medical school. Last summer, she did sensory neuroscience research at the University of Wisconsin Madison.  This summer, she is working with Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology Dr. Kuei-Yuan Tseng on the neuroscience of addiction. A PhD aspirant, Veldran states, “Not only is it a great advantage to be extremely close in proximity to the university, but being surrounded by professionals who want to help you learn about the field makes everyday an experience. I am not simply an intern there, I am a member of a team. Overall, being at RFUMS allows me to get a “head start” in the research field. I am interested in going into research, but at RFUMS I have the chance to see if this is the path I want to follow.”

Many graduates have become published scholars with medical school faculty in a growing list of major journals such as PLoS One, Behavioral Brain Research, Hippocampus, Nucleic Acids Research, Molecular Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Journal of Neuroscience, and PLoS Genetics.

Several alumni of this program are now in medical school, PhD programs in biology, neuroscience and psychology, as well as pursuing diverse health professions degrees in optometry, physical therapy, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, public health, counseling, and veterinary medicine. Others have become K-12 science teachers or headed for biotech/pharmacuetical careers.

The 2015 scholar list comprises of eight seniors, seven juniors, and four sophomores. All scholars are planning majors in neuroscience or biology. One scholar is returning for the third year, with eight returning for the second year. All scholars have the option to live on-campus and access the summer meal plan.

2015 Class of LFC-RFUMS Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars:

The following students are supported by the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation

Joseph Bortolotti ’17 (Mentor: Professor Gregor Dimitrov, Department of Biophysics and Physiology)

Trevor Buhr ’18 (Mentor: Professor Robert Marr, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)

Lindsay Hartup ’17  (Mentor: Professor Adrian Gross, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)

Heather Heitkotter ’16 (Mentor: Professor Amiel Rosenkranz, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology)

Hannah Samberg ’16 (Mentor: Professor Amiel Rosenkranz, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology)

Alexandra Skoczek ’18 (Mentor: Professor Joanna Dabrowska, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology)

Zachary Weinstein ’18 (Mentor: Professor Joseph Reynolds, Department of Microbiology and Immunology)
Kaitlyn Woodman ’17 (Mentor: Professor Joseph Reynolds, Department of Microbiology and Immunology)

The following students are supported by the Gorter Family Foundation and RFUMS

Jeremy Berg ’17 (Mentor: Professor William Frost, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)

Mallory Burney ’17 (Mentor: Professor Michelle Hastings, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)

Sarah Chiren ’16 (Mentor: Professor Daniel Peterson, Department of Neuroscience)

Alexandra Dunn  ’16 (Mentor: Professor Neelam Sharma-Walia, Department ofMicrobiology and Immunology)

Rachel Granberg ’16 (Mentor: Professor Kuei Tseng, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology)

James Haney ’17 (Mentor: Professor Hongkyun Kim, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)

Kristofer Korth ’16 (Mentor: Professor Ronald Kaplan, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) 

Yvette Ramirez ’18 (Mentor: Professor David Everly, Department of Microbiology and Immunology)

Jennifer Salgado-Benz ’16 (Mentor: Professor Joseph DiMario, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)

Chaya Tabas ’16 (Mentor: Professor Anthony West, Department of Neuroscience)

Lily Veldran ’17 (Mentor: Professor Kuei-Yuan Tseng, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology)

-Thanks to the Gorter Family Foundation that fund eleven students and the Groner Foundation that funded eight scholars this year.
-Thanks to Professor Ronald Kaplan (Vice-President of Research, RFUMS) and all RFUMS faculty for their generous and sustained support through stipend and research funds, mentoring time, and research training.
-Thanks to President Stephen Schutt and Krebs Provost/Dean of the Faculty Michael Orr for their support in expanding off-campus student research opportunities.
-This program is co-directed by Professor of Biology Shubhik DebBurman and Assistant Professor of Biology Lynn Westley.

News Contact

Shubhik K. DebBurman, PhD
Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Lake Forest College

Ph: (847)-735-6040