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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

Monday, June 1, 2020 through Friday, August 7, 2020

Dr. Bruce Knutson, Director

SURF Poster

SURF Brochure

The State University of New York Upstate Medical University, College of Graduate Studies is offering fellowships for its 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. The aim of the SURF program is to expose undergraduate students to biomedical research. In an intensive ten-week summer program, undergraduates with appropriate faculty help will formulate their own proposal, carry out research under the supervision of one of our faculty, write a research paper and have the opportunity 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 alternative careers in research and how to apply to graduate school. Students are given ample opportunities to interact directly with many of our faculty and graduate students.

The program runs from Monday, June 1, 2020, through Friday, August 7, 2020.

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 2020, and are majors in chemistry, biology, or a related field. Applicants must have a strong interest in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in biomedical research.

The main criteria for the selection of fellows will be personal scholarship, academic excellence, and the match of applicant interests with those of participating SUNY Upstate Medical University biomedical 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. 


Application is closed for
SUMMER 2020 Program.
We will begin accepting applications for SUMMER 2021 in October 2020.
Please re-visit our website then.


  • 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
Email: surf@upstate.edu

Deadline for Applications: February 3, 2020

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Mentors Research Description:

  • Jeffery Amack, PhD: Genetics and cell biology of how organs take shape during embryonic development.
  • David Auerbach, PhD: Cellular, animal, and clinical approaches to investigate the susceptibility and mechanisms for electrical disturbances in both the brain (seizures) and heart (arrhythmias.)
  • Alaji Bah, PhD: Regulation of Binding, Folding and Phase Separation of Intrinsically Disordered Proteins by Post Translational Modifications.
  • Michael Cosgrove, PhD: Structural biochemistry of protein complexes involved in the epigenetic regulation of chromatin.
  • Andrew Craig, PhD: Our basic laboratory research examines the environmental and biological factors that affect behavior using rats and mice. Areas of particular focus include decision making, relapse, and behavioral deficits in animal models of neuropsychiatric diseases.
  • Thomas Duncan, PhD: Allosteric regulation of bacterial ATP synthase in E. coli & in pathogenic Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • George Fulk, PT, PhD, FAPTA: The research focuses on identifying barriers to recovery and interventions to promote locomotor function and mobility poststroke. In particular examining the link between sleep disorders and its impact on recovery after stroke.
  • Steven Hanes, PhD and Michael Cosgrove, PhD: This would be a joint project to study the structure and evolution of enzymes from organisms that survive in extreme environments (high Arctic ice sheets and Antarctica).
  • Huaiyu Hu, PhD: Generating zebrafish models of retinitis pigmentosa by CRISPR to study molecular and cellular mechanisms of vision loss. 
  • 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.
  • Christine King, PhD: The research focuses on the role of inflammation and the innate immune response to severe viral infections, including dengue and KSHV, with the goal of discovering new pathogenesis-specific therapeutic targets.
  • 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.
  • Yingxi Lin, PhD: Studies how the brain captures transient sensory experiences and converts them into long-lasting memories.  
  • Hong Lu, PhD: How nuculear receptors and high-fat/alcohol intake regulate drug metabolism, metabolic disease, and liver cancer. 
  • 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).
  • Henry Roane, PhD: Our clinical research applies basic learning principles to assess and treat severe behavior disorders and feeding disorders. We work primarily with pediatric populations with intellectual and developmental disabilities like autism spectrum disorder.
  • 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.
  • Harry Taylor, PhD: Our research aims to advance our understanding of the interplay between HIV-1, host metabolism, innate immunity, and inflammation in the context of both acute and chronic infection.
  • Saravanan Thangamani, PhD: The primary research focus for my lab is to unravel the molecular mechanisms of arbovirus (Zika, Chikungunya, Powassan virus) transmission by ticks and mosquitoes. In addition, my lab focuses on: (1) understanding the environmental factors contributing to the emergence and re-emergence of tick-borne diseases in New York; (2)  to develop novel transmission control methods, including the development of transmission blocking and anti-tick vaccines; (3) to investigate the effect of co-infections on the clinical outcome of Lyme disease.
  • Andrea S Viczian, PhD: Understanding molecular networks in frog and mouse early eye formation that when mutated in humans, leads to blindness.
  • Guirong Wang, PhD: Innate immunity of surfactant proteins (SP-A, SP-B, SP-C, SP-D) in the bacterial pneumonia model using humanized transgenic mice.
  • Thomas Weickert, PhD: Our clinical neuroscience research program uses molecular neurobiological, neuroimaging and neurocognitive findings to guide our research using brain stimulation and/or re-purposed, approved medication as add-on therapies to antipsychotics to improve thinking ability and reduce symptom severity in people with schizophrenia and related psychoses.
  • Gary Winslow, PhD: Novel memory B cell and antibody responses to intracellular bacterial infection.
  • Richard Wojcikiewicz, PhD: Molecular biology of receptor-mediated signaling, apoptosis, and mitochondrial dynamics in mammalian cells.  
  • Ma-Li Wong, MD, PhD: Major depression and co-morbid disorders, behavior, gene expression, genetics, pharmacogenetics, biomarkers.
  • 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.