Many opportunities in summer research

Meron-Shiferaw-(2).jpgBy Douglas Esser
University of Washington Bothell biology major Meron Shiferaw, left, used a summer research opportunity to learn the inside workings of a genomics lab.

Shiferaw not only gained experience that looks good on a resume, she networked with people who would write letters of recommendation. That she also was paid a stipend was “fortunate.” (Photo by Marc Studer)

If you’ve been thinking about a summer research experience, now is the time to apply. Deadlines for undergraduate opportunities are in January and February. Don’t miss your chance to learn about research and build skills in a full-time experience not possible during the school year.

Information about dozens of research opportunities at the University of Washington and beyond is available from the UW Bothell Office of Research. Advisers in the Student Success Center are available to help with applications. An information session is scheduled 12:30-1:30 p.m. Feb. 2 in UW1-103.

Shiferaw was accepted into the UW GenOM Undergraduate Summer Research Program in the summer of 2015 and placed in a School of Pharmacy lab in Seattle. She started by extracting DNA from human cheek swabs. By the end of the summer she presented research on genetic variation in the human liver that affects vitamin D metabolism.

”It helped me see if I’m interested in working in a lab or not. And it is something I want to do,“ said Shiferaw, who is on track to graduate in the spring with her biology degree and minors in chemistry and neurobiology.

After graduating, she plans to prepare for the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) and is thinking about a career as a physician assistant.

Summer research is “a great opportunity for networking as well as getting experience in the lab, and it makes you stand out after graduation,” Shiferaw says.

The GenOM program is designed for underrepresented students. Shiferaw moved from Ethiopia with her family in 2009. Her support included mentoring by Katrina Claw, a UW pharmaceutics researcher. Summer research will help any student making career choices.

“It will give you an idea of what to do out there,” Shiferaw says.

A similar opportunity is the summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) in mathematics at UW Bothell. Funds from the National Science Foundation provide a $4,000 stipend for each of nine students. Campus housing is provided for the eight-week program beginning June 19.

The students work with faculty mentors on problems in pure mathematics, such as knot theory and tiling theory, as well as applied mathematical problems in optimization and ultrasound image analysis. The application deadline for the UW Bothell Mathematics REU is Feb. 24.

Summer research provides one of the best opportunities to learn by doing and fully experience research in different disciplines, says Charlotte Rasmussen, director of undergraduate research and creative practice.

“I encourage students to use summers to not only build their skills and professional networks but also think about their careers,” she says. “Where are the employment opportunities in your field? Where are you interested in attending graduate or professional school?“