On June 22, 2014, six undergraduates arrived on the UCLA campus. Most originated from Cal State and UC campuses; one came from Tennessee State. Their mission: spend the summer conducting independent research in the lab of a UCLA faculty member and develop professional skills to help prepare them for graduate school. The disciplines ranged from Cellular & Developmental Biology to Neuroscience but all had the opportunity to work directly with a faculty mentor and the postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in the lab. By the end of the program, a mere 8 weeks later, the students completed their projects and wrote a research paper and presented a poster on their findings.
David Saldana, an undergraduate student from the University of California, Irvine stated, “The most beneficial part of SPUR-LABS was the mentorship and interaction from both the LABS coordinators and the faculty we conducted our research projects with. They provided us with unique knowledge and insight into prospective research careers.”
The training is rigorous and thorough, emphasizing not only research skills but also how to successfully apply to graduate school and for fellowships, how to write about and discuss their research with colleagues, and what life is like as a professional scientist.
These six students were selected from over 100 applicants on the basis of their academic achievement, relevance of research interests and experience, and the applicants potential to contribute to diversity and excellence in the biosciences.
“The SPUR-LABS became a second family. The cohort of SPUR-LABS had students from many backgrounds, but through the planned activities we all developed a friendship and formed into a family thanks to SPUR-LABS,“ says Martin Douglass, an undergraduate from California State University, Long Beach.
The 2014 summer cohort is pictured above. From left to right, David Saldana (UC Irvine), Jacob Mack (UC Davis), Martin Douglass (CSU Long Beach), Rebecca Welch (Tennessee State University), Emaan Madany (CSU Northridge), Alan Santana (CSU San Bernardino).
If you are an undergraduate interested in applying, find out more information here.