Gerstner Sloan Kettering Celebrates Outstanding Undergraduates, Marking the End of the 2018 Summer Research Program

SURP group

2018 SURP participants take a moment to celebrate their last day with GSK Associate Dean Linda Burnley (left) and SURP faculty co-directors Michael Overholtzer and Linda Finley (center, back row).

Nineteen aspiring scientists were celebrated this month for completing a unique summer research program offered by the Gerstner Sloan Kettering (GSK) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Four of the students received special recognition for their outstanding performance and academic achievements.

The ten-week Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) provides an immersive experience for a highly select group of college students who are interested in pursuing a career in biomedical sciences. Participants get a taste of life as a graduate student before they apply to medical or graduate school.

In 2018, 19 students from a pool of more than 800 applicants participated in the program.

“We are impressed with this year’s extraordinary group of undergraduates,” says cell biologist and SURP Faculty Co-Director Michael Overholtzer. “They have worked hard to strengthen their basic research skills through hands-on experience in our labs and show enormous potential to succeed in their scientific endeavors.”

Each SURP participant is assigned a GSK faculty mentor and interns in cutting-edge laboratories in the Sloan Kettering Institute. In addition to a productive lab rotation, the summer program includes weekly scientific seminars, journal clubs run by GSK students, and individual works-in-progress meetings in the format of chalk talks.

Mechanistic Biology Summer Program
Participants have the opportunity to perform hands-on research in cutting-edge biomedical research laboratories.

This array of interactive experiences helps improve students’ interview and presentation skills, which were showcased on August 9 at a community-wide poster session featuring their individual research projects. The session culminated with an awards ceremony in which each participant was recognized.

In addition, four SURP students were named a 2018 Rubin and Sarah Shaps Scholar for their outstanding performance in the program. Awardees were Thilaka Arunachalam, Azim Dharani, Zachary Kaplan, and Ena Oreskovic.

“These exceptional students have excelled, and the honor is well deserved,” says cell biologist and SURP Co-Director Lydia Finley. “They have a bright future, and I’m looking forward to the exciting research contributions they will make down the road.”

Many SURP alumni have returned as applicants, and even students at GSK. “We hope to see that continue,” adds Dr. Finley.