Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program returns to WSU Applebaum

Following a pandemic pause, SURF is up again this summer with enthusiastic support from Dean Brian Cummings and Interim Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences Steven M. Firestine.

SURF students
In June, SURF students visited Detroit's acclaimed Heidelberg Project. From left: Tejas Kakunje, Alyssa Kimbrough, Ella Szczublewski, Sarah Gallagher and Tarek Atasi.

Coordinated by Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Randall Commissaris, the WSU Applebaum Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows program offers students from Wayne State and other institutions the opportunity to gain direct experience conducting biomedical research in the laboratory of a departmental faculty member, while being exposed to a variety of elements important in the conduct of such research along the way. Each fellow is awarded a $4,500 stipend and is paired with a Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty mentor.

2022 SURF participants and their home institutions

Tarek Atasi (WSU Pharmaceutical Sciences), mentored by Dr. Anna Moszczynska

Sarah Gallagher (University of Michigan) , mentored by Dr. Timothy Stemmler

Tejas Kakunje (University of Michigan), mentored by Dr. Wanqing Liu

Alyssa Kimbrough (Oakland University), mentored by Dr. Andrew Lipchik

Ella Szczublewski (Kalamazoo College), mentored by Dr. Aloke Dutta

Each Monday through Thursday, SURF students work on an original research project in their mentor’s lab. Typically, these are independent projects within the larger scope of that lab’s goals, conducted under close supervision and guidance.

SURF students with Tyree Guyton at the Heidelberg Project
Artist Tyree Guyton (third from left) took time to discuss his Heidelberg Project – and the iconic Dotty Wotty House, his childhood home where it all began – with touring SURF fellows. 

On Fridays, the Meet the Mentors lunch program allows time for students to get acquainted with faculty during informal outings — including a recent trip to Detroit’s renowned Heidelberg Project, the outdoor art gallery designed by urban environmental artist Tyree Guyton to draw attention to Detroit's forgotten neighborhoods. After lunch, students complete mini-rotations in laboratories beyond those they’ve been assigned, led by their SURF colleagues.

Each week, SURF students attend a special topics seminar presented by faculty members, with topics ranging from Training for a Research Career and Bibliographic Searching Techniques to Publication of Research Results. Various group activities keep things fun, including the annual Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences trip to Comerica Park for a Tigers game in July.

The program concludes in early August — check back then for an update on SURF projects and final reflections from the participants.

The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences is multidisciplinary and provides expertise in the areas of drug discovery, development and evaluation. The department is dedicated to pursuing scholarship that creates new knowledge, learning that disseminates and preserves knowledge, and engagement that exchanges knowledge. Learn more about the department and its application process.

An anchor in urban health care

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 25,000 students.

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