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Students present research at SURF Symposium

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nearly 70 students presented their research in the biological sciences at the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) poster presentation in the Rotunda of Low Library on January 29.

The research, on topics ranging from “The Role of Novel Protein Factors in DNA Damage Response Pathways” to “Charting the Progression of Neurovascular Coupling in Hydra vulgaris,” was conducted during Summer 2015 through the SURF program.

The SURF program, which is supported in part by the College, gives students the opportunity to take part in hands-on biology-related laboratory research for 10 weeks during the summer. Students work on independent study projects under the guidance of research scientists at labs on both the Morningside Heights campus and the Columbia University Medical Center and receive a stipend. During Summer 2015, 74 Columbia students from the College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and Barnard College participated in the program.

"The SURF program allows our students to pursue their scientific interests beyond the classroom, and gain the research experience necessary to pursue careers in the sciences and medicine," said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College, vice president for Undergraduate Education.

“It’s a great experience," said Alok Nimgaonkar CC'18, a pre-med biology major who studied epigenetics on campus this past summer. "It’s different than a lot of other internships where you’re just sort of doing more routine office stuff. With SURF you actually get to do the research, [to] get a very hands-on work experience.”

At the SURF Symposium, the students’ posters covered subjects across the biological sciences, from genetics and development to medicine, pharmacology, psychology and anesthesiology; from pathology and cell biology to nephrology and neurology; from microbiology and immunology to physiology and cell biophysics; and from biomedical engineering to chemistry.

​​“SURF was a great opportunity to work independently. And I think it’s really important in the sciences to work as independently as possible as early as possible," said Aditya Anir CC'18, a biochemistry major. "But more than that, it allowed me to make a lot of connections in the science community."

“In the classroom, you’re learning the science, [and] you think it’s all clear cut, and [that] we know everything about what’s going on," said Sarah Ricklan CC'18, a pre-med evolutionary biology of the human species major who studied cell competition last summer. "But once you’re in a lab you realize that there just so many more questions and people are just constantly trying to further their knowledge of what’s going on. So that was really fun, that the academic striving continues after graduating."

Learn more about SURF