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Center for Biomedical Research

Hannah Hall of Science, Room 276
244 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4451
(location map)
(248) 370-3420
Fax (248) 370-3408

Yang Xia, Director

Center for Biomedical Research

Hannah Hall of Science, Room 276
244 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4451
(location map)
(248) 370-3420
Fax (248) 370-3408

Yang Xia, Director

Student Research Opportunities

The Center for Biomedical Research supports several student research opportunities, inviting experiential learning that offers a glimpse into related careers. Prime your professional experience by reviewing the current opportunities below. 

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Biological Sciences and Chemistry

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Biological Sciences and Chemistry for Summer 2023 is currently
accepting applications through March 27th.

The Summer Research Program is a unique opportunity to conduct independent research projects in biological science, biomedical science, chemistry, or environmental science. Under the guidance of a faculty member, students will gain experience in the methods of scientific research, with the goal of exposing talented undergraduate students to the practices of a professional scientific career. At the conclusion of the program, students will demonstrate improved technical, critical thinking and communication skills.

For the application form, please see the "Fellowships" section below.

  • Students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA to be eligible for the program, and be registered at Oakland University at least part-time (6 credits) in the Winter 2023 semester and at least part-time in the Fall 2023 semester in a degree seeking program to be eligible for the program.
  • The Summer Research Program is a 12-week program during the summer of 2023.
  • Students will work one on one with a Principal Investigator (PI) on a research project in a laboratory setting.
  • Students are encouraged to take no more than one course during the summer 2023 semester. Any plans to take summer classes must be approved by the advising PI, as coursework may interfere with participation in the program.
  • Awardees are expected to work 30 hrs/week but not more than 40 hrs/wk for the duration of the program. The total time commitment for the 12 weeks is 405 hours for the full $4000. Awardees will be paid by the hour.
  • All students will participate in a symposium at the end of the program and provide a short presentation based upon their research project. Student are also required to participate in bi-weekly seminars throughout the duration of the program.
  • Awardees are also encouraged to continue with their research project during the academic year by enrolling in BIO 4995, BCM 4995, or CHM 4995.
  • Students with an existing PI that has agreed to support their SURP 2023 participation should follow the regular SURP application procedures. On the application, select the supporting PI as the first choice mentor and indicate the funding source given by the PI. The supporting PI should confirm this information in their letter of recommendation for the student.

College of Arts and Science Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry or Biochemistry with expected graduation in Fall 2023 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for the fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Department of Biological Sciences Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Biological Science or Biomedical Sciences with an expected graduation of Fall 2023 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Department of Chemistry Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Environmental Sciences, Chemistry or Biochemistry with an expected graduation of Fall 2023 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Dershwitz Summer Research Fellowship
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry with an expected graduation of Fall 2023 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 during the previous four semesters of study is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Oakland University Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Biological Science, Biomedical Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry or Biochemistry with an expected graduation of Fall 2023 or later, are eligible to apply.. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Application materials must include:

  1. Fill out a completed application:
    •  Answer all questions. 
    • List three mentors from the list below that you are interested in working with for the summer program.
    • Include a brief resume.
  2. Request a letter of recommendation (only one) from someone who can attest to your scientific interest and aptitude. Letters of recommendation must be sent directly from the source to ugr@oakland.edu. Letters of recommendation will not be accepted if submitted by the applicant.
  3. Email your unofficial transcript to ugr@oakland.edu

Deadline: March 27, 2023
Notification of Acceptance: week of April 10, 2023

All completed applications must be submitted via email to ugr@oakland.edu.

Any questions can be submitted via email to ugr@oakland.edu.

Learn more about the Department of Biological Sciences.

Learn more about the Department of Chemistry.

Mentors From Biological Studies

Dr. Fabia Battistuzzi

The Battistuzzi lab works on evolution of early life using comparative genomics tools. Our primary goal is to understand how genomes change over time and under different conditions. Example projects include phylogenetic reconstructions of life on early Earth, genome analyses of microbes exposed to microgravity, and the evolution of genome complexity in pathogens. Students who join this group will learn transferable skills in data analytics and computer programming, in addition to evolutionary concepts.

Dr. Elizabeth Delorme-Axford

Autophagy is a highly conserved pathway (from yeast to human) of cellular self-eating that is essential for metabolism and survival during stress. Current research interests in the lab are focused on identifying mechanisms regulating autophagy and mitophagy in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Students can expect to incorporate biochemical, molecular, and cell biological techniques in their projects. Students planning to select Dr. Delorme-Axford as a preferred PI should contact her at delormeaxford@oakland.edu before submitting their application.

Dr. Chhabi Govind

Role of epigenetic modifications in regulating chromatin structure genome-wide.

Govind lab focuses on understanding how DNA is made accessible for the factors involved in DNA-dependent processes. The students will be involved in performing genomic experiments using cutting-edge molecular biology techniques. In particular, they will perform CUT&RUN, which allows determination of a factor binding levels and sites to a base-pair resolution. They will also learn to analyze and interpret genomics data using latest bioinformatic techniques. This will be an excellent opportunity for those students are interested in Gene-regulation, Epigenetic and Genetic regulation of gene-expression, and also for those who would like to learn Bioinformatic analyses of genomic data.

Dr. Mary Jamieson

Research in the Jamieson lab examines ecological interactions among species, in particular plants, insects, and microbes. This work aims to inform biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and sustainable agriculture. A central theme in the Jamieson lab is understanding how plant chemistry mediates interactions with pollinators, herbivores, and microbes, including both antagonistic and beneficial species. Research focuses on plant compounds that are important not only for the ecology of species interactions but also for human health. Some examples of these compounds include phenolic compounds which are important antioxidants and terpenoid compounds which have anti-microbial, insecticidal, nutraceutical, and pharmacological properties. For further information, please visit the Jamieson lab website. Students applications should also contact Dr. Jamieson at mjamieson@oakland.edu to discuss research opportunities before submitting an application.

Dr. Shailesh Lal

The SURP project in my lab will investigate the conserved role of a novel mRNA splicing factor encoding RBM48 gene between maize plants and humans.  RBM48 is intricately involved in the splicing of a small novel group of distinct U12 introns found in most plants and animals including humans. Mutations that interfere with the splicing of U12 introns is associated with proliferative growth mimicking cancer in both plants and animals. The project will entail CRISPR-Cas9 mediated knockout of RBM48 in human stem cells to investigate the role of this gene in cell differentiation and proliferation. It will be an excellent opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in implementing CRISPR-Cas9 in vivo gene editing technology for manipulation of gene expression in human stem cells with impact on biomedical implication.  For details of ongoing research in Shailesh's laboratory, please visit his lab website.

Dr. Jiang Lan

Jiang lab's research focuses on the mechanisms of tubular organ formation using Drosophila trachea as a model. Current project is the investigation of the role of novel Osiris gene family in trachea tube morphogenesis. Cellular, molecular, and genetic approaches will be  used to analyze the function of these novel genes.

Dr. Zijuan Liu

Dr Liu is interested in the roles of membrane transporters in brain physiology and pathology. More specifically, we aim to examine the roles of zinc transporter ZIP8 in regulating downstream molecular targets in brain. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the roles of trace elements and their respective transporters in disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s. Student applicants must contact the prospective mentor at liu2345@oakland.edu before submitting the application.

Dr. Taras Oleksyk

Taras K. Oleksyk is interested in the study of genome diversity and its implications to evolutionary processes of adaptation and speciation.  His research interests are in evolution, bioinformatics and comparative genomics as it relates to adaptation, speciation and disease. His lab has scientific interests in two general areas. First area is in genomics and admixture of human populations and the analysis of the candidate disease genes in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Second general area is in the genomics and evolution of animals, especially in conservation genetic of endangered species. My research efforts are to build a strong independent and externally funded program in genomics and bioinformatics focusing on population and evolutionary genomics, specifically as it relates to adaptation, speciation and disease.

Dr. Tom Raffel

Raffel lab research focuses on the ecology of parasitic diseases in aquatic animals. Current projects are focused on applying metabolic theory based mathematical models to describe the temperature dependence of a fungal disease of frogs and salamanders, and on determining ecological drivers of snail-borne parasitic diseases of humans and wildlife. Student applicants must contact the prospective mentor at raffel@oakland.edu before submitting the application.

Dr. Mi Hye Song

Song lab is interested in understanding molecular and genetic mechanisms of Centrosome biogenesis; Mitotic spindle assembly and function; Cell cycle regulation using the nematode C. elegans model. Our research will contribute to further our knowledge of human diseases including cancer, microcephaly and neurodegenerative disorder. We use a combination of advanced techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, RNA-seq, RNAi, and high-resolution confocal imaging. Please feel free to contact Dr. Song (msong2@oakland.edu) if you have any questions regarding summer research project.

Dr. Nicole Wagner

The Wagner lab is interested in understanding how humans are impacting freshwater ecosystems. The frequency, intensity, and duration of harmful cyanobacterial blooms are increasing world-wide. Harmful cyanobacterial blooms are a human health concern because of their ability to produce hepatotoxins and neurotoxins, and are often associated with multiple livestock and pet deaths per year. Current research interests are focused on what environmental fluctuations cause cyanobacteria to become dominant within phytoplankton communities. This research involves both laboratory and field experiments. For further information, please visit the Wagner lab website. Applicants need to contact Dr. Wagner at nicolewagner@oakland.edu to discuss research opportunities before submitting an application.

Dr. Douglas Wendell

PROJECT: Improving Confidence When Differentiating Introduced and Native Phragmites. The overall purpose of the project is to improve confidence when differentiating introduced and native Phragmites by doing the following (1) providing information that will aid managers when conducting in-field identification, (2) providing DNA testing to managers in Michigan to identify native and introduced stands and monitoring for the occurrence of hybrids, (3) understanding the genetic diversity of Phragmites in the state, and (4) providing the results of our genetic findings to natural resource managers by depositing them in a publicly available map.

Mentors From Chemistry

Dr. Adam Avery

The research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control morphogenesis and maintenance of intricate neuronal structures, and how these mechanisms are disrupted to cause neurological disease. The lab employs protein biochemical, and genetic and live imaging approaches using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). Students in the lab have the unique opportunity to explore questions in neurobiology at both the single molecule and whole organism level.

Dr. Thomas Bianchette

Dr. Bianchette’s research interests include natural hazards, sedimentology, Quaternary paleoenvironments, paleoclimatology, and coastal dynamics. Field work consists of sediment coring and extracting surface samples from lacustrine, beach, and marsh environments. Laboratory techniques include geological (e.g., loss-on-ignition), biological (e.g., pollen, charcoal), and chemical (e.g., x-ray fluorescence) proxies.

Dr. Kodiah Beyeh

It is very challenging to develop new materials with well-defined properties based on specially designed properties of the molecular constituents for the translation of the intrinsic properties of molecules into material properties. It is therefore essential to have control over the molecular interactions and orientation to create function in the material. In our group, we work on designing supramolecular materials through high-affinity and selective binding of several bioanalytes with synthetic supramolecular receptors possessing defined cavities. As a Summer Student in our group, you would perform cutting-edge experiments in a dynamic research environment. You would learn how to prepare different receptor-substrate assemblies and investigate their chemical and physical properties with the use of novel experimental techniques such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Mass spectrometry, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC), Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) etc).

Dr. Roman Dembinski

Novel Synthetic Methods
Nucleoside (DNA/RNA) Analogs
Bioorganic and Organometallic Chemistry
Heterocyclic and Fluorine Chemistry
For publications (some with undergraduate coauthors) see https://oakland.edu/chemistry/faculty/dembinski/

Dr. Laura Kiefer

Our research uses vibrational spectroelectrochemistry techniques to determine catalytic mechanisms and what influences their outcomes. We primarily focus on environmentally relevant catalysts, including those that reduce greenhouse gases such as CO 2 and methane.

Dr. Zacharias Kinney

Our primary research goal is to design, synthesize, and characterize novel molecules to be utilized as multi-functional materials. Depending on our scaffold design, these molecules have applications ranging from molecular recognition/sensing, organic electronics (dye-sensitized solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes), to multi-dentate ligands for photodynamic therapy. Student researchers will be exposed to traditional synthetic and inert atmosphere (Schlenk line and glovebox) techniques, purification methods (flash column and gel permeation chromatography), and characterization of solution-state properties (1D/2D nuclear magnetic resonance, NMR; UV-visible spectroscopy; fluorimetry). Interested in submitting an application? Email kinney@oakland.edu to discuss on-going research opportunities to find a project that fits your interests.

Dr. Alexander Rusakov

The Rusakov Group research is in theoretical and computational chemistry. We combine bespoke approaches of relativistic quantum chemistry and condensed-matter physics with efficient algorithms and massively parallel computations for the predictive modeling of complex and experimentally challenging heavy-element systems. Our group focuses on the chemistry of promising medical alpha-emitters, primarily astatine, superheavy elements, and the exploration of machine-learning approaches in relativistic quantum chemistry. The Summer Research Program in our group will introduce students to the development of modern computational chemistry methods and their application to modeling complex heavy-element systems of fundamental and practical interest. Ideally, students would pursue publishing their results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. More information is available on the The Rusakov Group website. Also, see our recent publication in The Journal of Physical Chemistry.

Dr. Zhe Wang

We are focusing on the interfacial material and phenomena study, particularly on the molecular reactions at the electrode/liquid/gas interface, using electrochemistry and spectroscopy method.

  1. Fundamental study of small molecules electrochemical synthesis and conversion derived in the green chemistry systems.
  2. Using the predictable and tunable bio-interface to design a highly specified small molecule and biomarker quantification for in vivo and in vitro testing.

Sensor array detection and system integration.

Dr. Colin Wu

The primary research focus is to dissect the molecular mechanisms by which DNA repair enzymes function and to investigate how their defects contribute to the early onset of genetic disorders. In particular, how the FANCJ DNA helicase and the BRCA1 tumor suppressor carry out their DNA repair activities. Mutations in FANCJ and BRCA1 are strongly linked to the onset of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and Fanconi anemia. A combination of biochemistry, single-molecule biophysics, and structural approaches to use to gain a detailed understanding of the macromolecular interactions involved in this DNA repair network. Work in the lab involves:

  • Protein-DNA interactions
  • Enzyme mechanisms
  • DNA repair
  • Cancer metabolism

Dr. Ziming Yang

We are interested in understanding how organic molecules are produced, transported, and degraded in natural environments such as deep-ocean hydrothermal systems, Arctic permafrost, wetlands, sand dune ecosystems, and also potentially habitable environments beyond Earth. Students participating in this program will obtain hands-on experiences in laboratory experiments, geochemical modeling, field sampling, and learning novel analytical techniques in the lab.

SUPER Program in ERI

The Eye Research Institute Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research (SUPER) provides a unique opportunity for Oakland University undergraduates to participate in NIH and other externally sponsored research under the mentorship of four ERI faculty. SUPER scholars obtain research training in the disciplines of biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, molecular biology, neuroscience, human genetics, bioengineering, and medical therapeutic development. ALL SUPER scholarships include a Research Fellowship up to $4,250, paid biweekly as undergraduate student employment. Students will utilize the latest research methodologies and equipment in the vision science research laboratories at Oakland University. Awardee students can often continue their ERI labs after the summer and can enroll in independent research experience courses required of their programs, such as BIO 4995 or BCM 4995.

There is an opportunity for students to co-author publications in scientific journals and participate in presentations at future national meetings. Numerous SUPER alumni have a well above-average success rate for entry into graduate programs, medical schools, optometry colleges, or bioscience-related employment. Visit the ERI student research for more information.

Research at OU
  • SUPER. The Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research provides a unique opportunity for Oakland University undergraduates to conduct independent research projects under the guidance of Eye Research Institute faculty.
  • Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry Undergraduate Research Program. The program is a unique opportunity to conduct independent research projects in biological sciences or chemistry that will expose students to the techniques and processes of research under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
  • UnCoRe. The Computer Science and Engineering Department invites students to apply to its eighth summer of an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduate students. The students selected to participate will be immersed in a research environment under the mentoring of CSE faculty.
  • Provost Undergraduate Research Award. $1,500 to support a student research or creative activity project.
  • Provost Undergraduate Student Travel Award. Student travel grant awards are intended to be used by students to attend conferences or research briefing sessions or to present papers at conferences.
  • Center for Undergraduate Research and Leadership (CURL). Oakland's unique Center for Undergraduate Research and Leadership (CURL) supports undergraduate research initiatives, and the key work of those actively developing undergraduate research. CURL promotes leadership and excellence among the Oakland University undergraduate community, and the qualities of creativity, innovation and social and public enterprise. Based in The Honors College, the Center advances the idea that strong undergraduate research is the future of higher education, the engine powering the success of our colleges and universities and of the public and private sectors. Champions of Research are elected to CURL on a semester basis. These Champions are faculty and undergraduate students who exemplify world class research.
External Research Opportunities
  • Amgen Scholars Program. An intensive summer research opportunity is science and biotechnology that spans the United States and Europe.
  • NIH Summer Internship Program. Summer programs at the National Institutes of Health provide an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research.
  • Pathways to Science. Use this website to find programs such as undergraduate summer research opportunities, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral positions, as well as resources and materials pertaining to recruitment, retention, and mentoring.
  • NSF REU Search. A website maintained by the National Science Foundation that allows a search for Research Experiences for Undergraduate sites.
  • APS Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship. The American Physiological Society Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships program funds up to 24 fellowships during the summer. These fellowships are to support full-time undergraduate students to work in the laboratory of an established investigator. See their page listing other summer research fellowships.
  • Janelia Undergraduate Scholars. HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus seeks a small number of well-prepared, committed and gifted students to join an intense and exciting research environment.
  • Oak Ridge National Labs. Whether you are a recent graduate, a graduate student, an undergraduate, a K-12 student, or a faculty member, ORNL has a program that will engage you in a scientific learning experience.
  • NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. You and your school are invited to participate in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Gaithersburg, MD Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program for students majoring in science, mathematics and engineering.
  • Quantitative and Physical Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. The Quantitative and Physical Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (QP-SURF) program at the University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School is an intensive summer research training experience designed for college students who are preparing for careers in biomedical research.
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program, sponsored by Mayo Graduate School, is a great way to build your skills as a young scientist or test your inclinations toward research.
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Sloan-Kettering. Students have the opportunity for hands-on research experience in cutting-edge biomedical research laboratories. Undergraduate freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with a proven interest in biomedical research are invited to apply.
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program. CSHL’s Undergraduate Research Program (URP) provides one of the few places where young people are instructed in the techniques of modern biology while becoming integrated members of a vibrant scientific community.
  • Summer Program in Quantitative Sciences. The Summer Program is a relatively intensive 6-week program, during which qualified participants receive an interesting and enjoyable introduction to biostatistics, epidemiology and public health research. The program also provides useful advice about graduate school and the application process through GRE preparation, meetings with different departments of the Harvard School of Public Health and other schools at Harvard University.
  • Summer Undergraduate Research in Pharmacology and Cancer (SURPH@Duke). This eight-week summer research experience focuses on learning how scientific discovery at the bench can be translated to treatment of disease. Students will work with a faculty mentor and carry out an independent research project in Duke’s Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology.
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Molecular & Integrative Physiology. The Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan offers summer fellowship programs to support undergraduate students that are interested in research in physiology and/or biomedical sciences.
  • University of Michigan-SMART Undergraduate Summer Program. UM-SMART is designed for undergraduate students who are potentially interested in obtaining a combined MD/PhD degree leading to a career in academic medicine focused on basic research relevant to human disease.
  • Central Michigan University Great Lakes Research Experiences for Undergraduates. This Central Michigan University Great Lakes Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, funded by the National Science Foundation and the College of Science and Engineering, supports the training of 8 students for 10 weeks during the summers of 2019-2021
  • Summer Student Research Program, Food and Drug Administration. Summer research opportunities are available at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Jefferson, Arkansas.
  • Mickey Leland Energy Fellowships Program. The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE), is a 10-week summer internship program that provides opportunities to students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology (IT), engineering, or mathematics (STEM majors).
  • Johns Hopkins University Summer Internship Program. The Summer Internship Program (SIP) provides experience in research laboratories to students of diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented minority students, students from economically disadvantaged and underserved backgrounds and students with disabilities that have completed one - two or more years of college.
  • Michigan State University Undergraduate Student Summer Research Program in Biomedical Sciences. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart Lung and Blood Institute is sponsoring a summer research program at Michigan State University for undergraduate students. The goal of this program is to provide hands-on research exposure and graduate or professional school preparation opportunities for individuals who are from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research.