Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

Monday, June 3, 2019 through Friday, August 9, 2019

Dr. Michael Cosgrove, Director
SURF PosterPDF Icon
SURF BrochurePDF Icon

The State University of New York Upstate Medical University in collaboration with SUNY ESF is offering fellowships for its 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. The aim of the SURF program is to nurture undergraduate students into careers that combine biomedical research into their chosen profession, providing them an understanding of research across disciplines and fields. In an intensive ten-week summer program, undergraduates with appropriate faculty guidance will formulate their own proposal, carry out research under the supervision of one of our faculty, write a research paper and have the potential to see their work published. In the process, students will attend research seminars, present and participate in a student journal club, present their work, and participate in discussions on careers in research and how to apply to graduate, medical, nursing or other health professions schools. Students are given ample opportunities to interact directly with many of our faculty and students. This is a newly enlarged program that will offer students the opportunity to perform research from a wide variety of perspectives (basic science, medicine, nursing, environmental health, and physical therapy).

The program runs from Monday, June 3, 2019, through Friday, August 9, 2019.

Each fellow will be provided a $3,500 stipend for the period plus housing.

Applicants to the program should be undergraduate students in good academic standing, who will be between their junior and senior years during the summer of 2019. Applicants must have a strong interest in pursuing post undergraduate studies in fields offered at SUNY Upstate or SUNY ESFExternal Link Icon.

The main criteria for the selection of fellows will be personal scholarship, academic excellence, and the match of applicant interests with those of participating Upstate and ESF faculty members. International students who currently have a J-1 or F-1 visa, and who are already attending school in the United States, are eligible to apply.

Depending on a student’s research interests they are paired with faculty in one of the 5 colleges (Graduate Studies, Nursing, Medicine, Health Professions or SUNY ESF) to learn more about those professions and to perform cutting-edge research. All students will interact throughout the 10 weeks allowing them to see research from many different facets by participating in inter-professional education events.

Students should be specifically interested in pursuing a PhD, MS, MD, MD/PhD, DNP, DPT, MPH, or PA. In addition, students from SUNY institutions or underrepresented minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

SURF Physician-Scientist Program (SURF PS)
The SUNY Upstate Medical University SURF Physician-Scientist Program (SURF PS) is a special pathway and admissions option for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). This initiative is aimed at exposing undergraduates, specifically students from backgrounds under-represented in science and healthcare, to the career path of a physician-scientist.

Prospective fellows will apply alongside traditional SURF students. Accepted fellows will be exposed to basic and translational science alongside both a PI and a current MD/PhD student mentor that is in the PhD portion of training. Fellows will have the opportunity to fulfill clinical curiosity in weekly rounds with an MD/PhD clinical faculty. The remaining requirements and events are the same as their fellow SURF peers.



  • Complete the SURF online application, including a personal statement of your academic goals and career objectives.
  • Submit an official transcript of your undergraduate study to date.
  • Have two letters of recommendation submitted to the SURF Program. The letters of recommendation may be requested from professors related to your major, an advisor, and/or department chair. [Letters of recommendation can be mailed, or emailed, by your recommender to the program.]

Mail supplemental documents to:
SUNY Upstate Medical University
College of Graduate Studies
SURF Program
Room 3122, Weiskoktten Hall
766 Irving Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13210
315 464-4538
FAX: 315-464-4544

Deadline for Applications: February 4, 2019

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Mentors Research Description:

  • Alaji Bah, PhD: Regulation of Binding, Folding and Phase Separation of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins by Post Translational Modifications.
  • Greg Boyer, PhDExternal Link Icon : Harmful algal blooms and biomarkers for toxin exposure in fish.
  • Peter Calvert, PhD: Construction of the ciliated sensory neurons of the eye and the mechanisms of sensitivity regulation and degeneration investigated using live cell microscopy.
  • Xin Jie Chen, PhD: We study the mechanism of mitochondrial degeneration and mitochondria-induced cell death in aging and aging-related diseases.
  • Helen Clancy, DNP, MBA, LNHA, and Melanie Kalman, PhD, RN: The effects of educational intervention on teamwork among nurses; secondary analysis of nested information from a larger project.
  • Michael Cosgrove, PhD: Structural biochemistry of protein complexes involved in the epigenetic regulation of chromatin.
  • Timothy Damron, MD: Musculoskeletal oncology diagnosis, treatment, and complications with special focus on prediction of impending pathologic fractures and mechanisms of bone fragility following radiotherapy.  
  • Nienke P. Dosa, MD, MPH: Work with an interdisciplinary team of clinicians, designers, and engineers to develop low cost equipment solutions for children with spina bifida in collaboration with the Spina Bifida Center of Central New York and spina bifida clinics in Equador and Peru  
  • Jodi Dowthwaite, PhD: The Dowthwaite Lab aims to optimize adult health by studying how diet, exercise and genetic factors affect development of muscle, bone and fat mass during childhood and adolescence.
  • John Drake, PhDExternal Link Icon: Quantifying the ability of trees and forests to cope with climate warming, primarily utilizing photosynthetic and respiratory measurements of leaves
  • Thomas Duncan, PhD: Allosteric regulation of bacterial ATP synthase in E. coli & in pathogenic Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • Wenyi Feng, PhD: Genomic mapping and mechanistic studies of chromosome fragile sites in cancer cells.
  • Heidi Hehnly, PhD: Centrosome-based mechanisms regulating mitotic spindle positioning.
  • Huaiyu Hu, PhD: Generating zebrafish models of retinitis pigmentosa by CRISPR to study molecular and cellular mechanisms of vision loss.  
  • Melanie Kalman, PhD, RN: Rural women and cardiac disease; literature review for gap analysis and identification of research questions.
  • Patricia Kane, PhD: Genetics, genomics, and biochemistry of cellular pH regulation.  
  • Mobin Karimi, MD, PhD: Immunoreceptor signaling during development, homeostasis, and effector function of T cells and NK cells.
  • William Kerr, PhD: Dr. Kerr's lab studies the role of the LRBA and SHIP1 genes in signal transduction.  Current studies involve delineating the role that these genes play in immunity, cancer cell survival, inflammatory bowel disease or obesity.
  • Bokkyu Kim PT, PhD: Relationship between brain structure and motor behavior in chronic stroke survivors
  • Barry Knox, PhD: Molecular biology of gene expression in the retina and mechanisms of retinal degeneration; molecular basis of tick feeding behavior and Lyme disease.
  • Bruce Knutson, PhD: Mechanism of RNA polymerase I transcription and its dysregulation in cancer and craniofacial dismorphologies. 
  • Leszek Kotula, MD, PhD: Genetic and molecular mechanisms of tumor progression.
  • Mira Krendel, PhD: Analysis of the role of myosins (actin-dependent motor proteins) in membrane trafficking, cell motility, and cell adhesion. Myosins in kidney disease and cancer.
  • Yingxi Lin, PhD: Studies how the brain captures transient sensory experiences and converts them into long-lasting memories.  
  • Brian F. Leydet Jr, MPH, PhDExternal Link Icon: Understanding tick-borne disease ecology and vector-microbe interactions.
  • Chunyu Liu, PhD: Genomic and epigenomic changes in brains of mental illnesses.
  • Stewart Loh, PhD: Developing anti-cancer drugs that activate the p53 tumor suppressor.
  • Hong Lu, PhD: How nuculear receptors and high-fat/alcohol intake regulate drug metabolism, metabolic disease, and liver cancer. 
  • Shuhong Luo, EdD, MSN, RN: Use of technologies in healthcare education, facilitators, barriers and gaps; Thematic analysis of survey responses, review and analysis of literature.
  • Christopher Neville, PT, PhD: Biomechanics of human movement as it relates to balance and lower extremity function with application to Concussion Injuries.
  • Lee A. Newman, PhDExternal Link Icon:Using Therapeutic Horticulture to improve patient outcomes; Hyperspectral imaging of plants to locate contaminants in the environment; Nanoparticle toxicity in plants; Production of Phyto pharmaceuticals; Plant/microbe activity for enhanced growth and pest resistance; Use of treatment wetlands to mitigate emerging contaminants; Use of living walls to treat food industry wastewater; Identification of plant genes and  pathways for degradation of environmental contaminants.
  • Donna Osterhout, PhD: Myelin formation during brain development; repair of the spinal cord after injury.
  • Andras Perl, MD, PhD: We conduct research on susceptibility genes that regulate mitochondrial homeostasis, autophagy, and cell death signal processing in mouse models and patients with autoimmunity, cancer, metabolic diseases, which led to successful clinical trials.
  • David Pruyne, PhD: Genetic and biochemical study of cytoskeletal regulation in striated muscles.  
  • Jessica Henty-Ridilla, PhD: Actin and microtubule crosstalk in cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • M. Saeed Sheikh, PhD: Development of tumor markers and targets for cancer therapy, and regulation of cell death and survival signaling in normal and cancer cells. 
  • Vladimir Sirotkin, PhD: Biochemical analysis and live cell imaging of Arp2/3 complex-dependent actin assembly during endocytosis.
  • Erin E Wentz, PT, PhD, PCS: Infant interventions that promote optimal development, both in babies with typical development and in babies with special health care needs. Her current study is a randomized control trials looking to inform tummy time recommendations for infants with typical development.
  • Gary Winslow, PhD: Novel memory B cell and antibody responses to intracellular bacterial infection.
  • Li-Ru Zhao, PhD: Mechanisms of neurovascular network reorganization in pathological progression and therapeutic intervention in the settings of cerebrovascular disorders, brain trauma, and neurovascular degenerative diseases.