Undergraduates Interested in Pursing Biomedical Science Careers Arrive at GSK for Summer 2017

By Alexandria Woodside and Linda Dianne Burnley,

Friday, May 26, 2017

The 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Program class.

The 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) began with the arrival of 21 undergraduate students, under the auspices of the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSK).

This year’s SURP class includes 13 women and eight men, all of whom are undergraduates from institutions across the United States, including Amherst College; Brown University; Columbia University; Cornell University; John Hopkins University; Loyola University; MIT; Mount Holyoke College; Stanford University; SUNY Stony Brook; University of California, Berkeley; University of Colorado; University of Georgia; University of Notre Dame; University of Pennsylvania; and University of Utah. The students will gain hands-on research experience in cutting-edge laboratories and interact with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and each other. As SURP faculty director and GSK faculty member Michael Overholtzer said during orientation, “You are going to see each other in your careers for the rest of your lives in some capacity.”

GSK Associate Dean Linda Burnley and Dr. Overholtzer welcomed students at orientation. They then had lunch with their “Big Sibs,” who play a role as graduate student mentors, and were introduced to their lab mentors and summer projects.

SURP provides students with an array of interactive experiences to help develop interview and presentation skills. The students attend weekly scientific seminars, held this year by researchers Richard White, Stephen Long, Christina Leslie, Joao Xavier, Lydia Finley, Ross Levine, Morgan Huse, Kenneth Marians, Anna-Katerina Hadjantonakis, and Daniel Heller. They also participate in GSK-student-led journal clubs — an activity formed by GSK students themselves. SURP students also participate in individual works-in-progress chalk talks, led by Dr. Overholtzer, who explained at orientation how important it is to be able to communicate and talk about science, which the chalk talks help to facilitate.

Every summer, MSK welcomes students in high school, college, and medical school to attend a series of special seminars on cancer-related topics. The program — hosted by the Tri-Institutional Research Program, which includes MSK, Weill Cornell, and Rockefeller University, and coordinated by MSK’s President’s Office — is also open to SURP students.

Not only do SURP students interact with the MSK community, they are provided an opportunity to explore New York City as well. This year, students will attend group dinners, a trip to the Bronx Zoo, an ice cream social, and an evening harbor cruise.

The ten-week program culminates in a community-wide poster session and awards ceremony in August. As Dr. Overholtzer advised the students, “It’s going to go by in a flash, but for a lot of you, this will be a relationship that you maintain. We will want you back!”