Macalester-HHMI Young Researchers

Overview-The MHRI-Young Researcher program aims to maintain a diversity of perspectives by supporting up to eight rising sophomores, or rising juniors, who have litte or no research experience.  The group works together as a cohort.  The goal is to build confidence and prepare students for  competitive research positions later in their time at Macalester. Students from all social, ethnic, racial, and financial backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. 

will serve as the faculty mentor for the 2016 Young Researchers cohort.

Chemical Biology Research: Developing Protein-Mimetic Materials
Proteins are nature’s molecular machines, carrying out nearly all the functions in the cell. Using proteins outside of their natural context is regarded as a powerful way to harness their unique capabilities to solve unmet challenges in therapeutics, catalysis and environmental remediation. However, proteins have limited stability and are difficult to synthesize in the laboratory. To address these issues, chemists are interested in designing and synthesizing protein-mimetic analogues that have similar properties. Such protein-mimetics can expand on the functions found in biological proteins by including non-natural side chains in order to access a wider structural diversity than is found in nature. Students working on this project will develop solid-phase chemical synthesis techniques to create protein-mimetic materials. During the course of this research students will learn solid phase peptide synthesis, reaction optimization, and multiple characterization techniques.

Students in their first year at Macalester are encouraged to apply.  Priority will be given to first years and sophomores who have no research experience. It is expected that applicants have completed Chem 111 and are enrolled in Chem 112 (or have completed Chem 115).

Up to six students will be selected to participate in this program during the summer of 2016.  The 10-week research period will begin in mid May. Participants will receive a $4,500 stipend and are eligible for on-campus housing, which requires the purchase of a food plan.

How to Apply-   Upload the following four components to the MHRI Application Moodle site  by 5 pm on February 15, 2016

**IMPORTANT** In order to Upload your application files, you must be enrolled in the MHRI Application Moodle course [NOTE: This Application portal will be available on December 19].  When live, you can self-enroll in the course by clicking on the link "Enroll me in this course" button which is located in the Settings block below the Navigation block on the right hand side of the page.

Once you have enrolled,  upload the appropriately named PDF-formatted files.  You will also complete an Application FORM on the site that allows you to provide key pieces of information, including 2 Macalester faculty or staff members who are willing to provide a recommendation for you.

  1.  A cover letter that provides 100-250 word responses to the following questions : 
    1. Describe your background and interest in science.  What areas of science interest you and why?
    2. Why are you interested in this particular summer research opportunity?  What attracts you to this program and what motivates you to pursue this opportunity?
    3. What are your tentative future goals?  How might this summer research experience inform or support the development of your long-term career planning?
  2.  A Curriculum vita or resume. Guidelines found at at this link
  3. An unofficial transcript.  Instructions can be found at this link.
  4. The names of one or two Macalester faculty or staff who can be contacted as references. This information will be gathered on a form located within the application site. Prior to listing an individual, you should confirm that they would be willing to provide a recommendation. (NOTE: These individuals are not required to write a letter of recommendation, but will be contacted by email or phone.)

Selection Criteria- Top ranking candidates will demonstrate many of the following characteristics:

  1. Significant scientific interests as attested to in description of interests in science, by course selection, and recommendations;
  2. Strong interpersonal skills (attested to by references and/or interviews);
  3. Maturity and independence (attested to by references or interviews).

    In making the final selections, the Committee will also consider the potential impact of the experience on student’s career path, the match of participants to the projects, and the overall composition of the group.

        Eligibility-- Participants in the MHRI-YR program must be full-time, enrolled students at Macalester College.  Furthermore, rising sophomores (i.e., students who have completed their first year at Macalester) or rising juniors who have not had a summer research experience are the targets of these awards. No prior lab experience is expected of students who participate.  Students from social, ethnic, or racial backgrounds that are underrepresented in the sciences (e.g., students from rural areas, of African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Native American decent, first-generation students, or students who are Pell Grant-eligible) are especially encouraged to apply. U.S. citizenship is not required for participation. 

          Interested students are encouraged to contact Interim Program Director,  with questions about the application process or the program. Questions about the nature of the work or the organization of the summer can be directed to Professors or

          During the summer of 2015, Dr. Mary Montgomery and Dr.Devavani Chatterjea served as faculty co-mentors for the following six students:

          • Jonathan Amezquita '18
          • Erica Arriaga-Gomez '18
          • Prajwal Giri '18
          • Tasneem Issa '18
          • Emely Mancia Chavez '18
          • Danielle Rutledge '18

          During the summer of 2014, Dr. Lin Aanonsen and Dr. Sarah Boyer served as faculty co-mentors for the following six students:

          • Alexis Cruz  '16
          • Nicole Mathews '16
          • Robyn Park '16
          • Phoung Pham '16
          • Kaan Salcin '17
          • Megan Schermerhorn '16