Ten promising university students from across the US will call Northwestern their home this summer as the 2024 cohort of the Synthetic Biology Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (SynBREU).

The ten-week NSF-funded program offered by the Center for Synthetic Biology (CSB), provides students with hands-on, cutting-edge research-intensive activities and mentorship in the labs of esteemed CSB faculty. The program’s thoughtfully designed curriculum will expose students to laboratory techniques as well as the skills necessary for success in their future STEM careers, including ethics, responsible conduct of research, communication, and networking. Enrichment activities take the form of field trips, workshops, seminars, teatime with faculty.

SynBREU requires students to carry out independent laboratory and/or computational synthetic biology projects that range from new approaches to drug development to earth-friendly technologies. This research is done under the guidance of one or more of the program’s faculty mentors from departments including Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Pharmacology, Chemistry, Engineering Science and Applied Mathematics, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Below are this year’s Synthetic Biology Research Experience for Undergraduates participants:

James Belgrave
Hometown: Wakefield, RI
CSB Mentor: Ludmilla Aristilde
College, Major, and Standing: Amherst College, Environmental Studies, Sophomore

Elizabeth (Spencer) Brown
Hometown:  Arlington, VA
CSB Mentor: Fatma Butun (Kelleher Lab)
College, Major, and Standing: Haverford College, Chemistry, Junior

Rachel Chubb
Hometown: Pelham, NH
CSB Mentor: Erica Hartmann
College, Major, and Standing: Wellesley College, Biology, Sophomore

Gabrielle (Gabby) Conover
Hometown: Pitman, NJ
CSB Mentor: Arthur Prindle
College, Major, and Standing: Elon University, Biology, Junior

Roxana Jafari Haddadian
Hometown: Wilmette, IL
CSB Mentor: Sam Kriegman
College, Major, and Standing: UIUC, Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, Freshman

Grace Lin
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
CSB Mentor: Josh Leonard
College, Major, and Standing: Florida State University, Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, Junior

Carolyn Payne
Hometown: Springfield, VA
CSB Mentor: Neha Kamat
College, Major, and Standing: William & Mary, Biology, Sophomore

Tatum Smith
Hometown: Wylie, TX
CSB Mentor: Amy Rosenzweig
College, Major, and Standing: University of Alabama, Chemical Engineering, Junior

Emily Valerio
Hometown: The Woodlands, TX
CSB Mentor: Milan Mrksich
College, Major, and Standing: University of Pennsylvania, Chemical Engineering, Freshman

Jianan (Linda) Wang
Hometown: Lynnwood, WA
CSB Mentor: Yogesh Goyal
College, Major, and Standing: University of Washington (Seattle), Biochemistry and Biophysics, Sophomore

At the end of the program, students will present their projects and results at a research symposium. Participants receive partial or full room and board, paid travel expenses for those not in the Chicagoland area, meal plan, and a $6,500 stipend.

“This program focuses on recruiting students without much synthetic biology research opportunities at their home institutions,” says SynBREU Director Danielle Tullman-Ercek.  “It is always a joy to meet students and see their excitement as they launch into their summer projects, and we are excited to watch their growth over the summer.”

by Lisa La Vallee