Overview-The MHRI-Young Researcher program aims to maintain a diversity of perspectives by supporting between eight and ten current first years, who have little or no research experience. 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.
Marcos Ortega (Biology) will serve as a faculty mentor for one of the 2017 Young Researchers cohorts.
Viruses are remarkable molecular machines that hijack a host cell and use the host infrastructure to replicate more viral particles for further infections. The first step in viral assembly involves translocating or physically moving the new viral DNA into a protective shell called a capsid. The capsid serves as the head of the virus and protects the viral DNA until an infection occurs. The process of translocating the DNA into the capsid is called DNA packaging. My research seeks to understand capsid assembly and DNA packaging in viruses that infect bacteria rather than eukaryotes. The bacterial viruses, or bacteriophages, are an excellent model system to understand DNA packaging at the molecular level. Bacteriophages have been studied extensively at the genetic level and are more simplistic than the viruses that infect humans. The underlying mechanisms are the same though and any information can be used to develop therapeutics to treat viruses that cause serious illness and cancer. I utilize two disciplines to study viral capsid assembly and DNA packaging in my lab. I first use X-Ray crystallography to try and obtain three-dimensional structures of viral proteins, and then I use biochemistry to study the function of the viral proteins.
Students in their first year at Macalester are encouraged to apply. It is expected that applicants have completed Chemistry 111 and are enrolled in Chemistry 112 (or have completed Chemistry 115). Ideally, applicants will have also taken at least one course in the introductory Biology series (i.e. Cell Biology or Genetics). Priority will be given to first years and sophomores who have no research experience.
Approximately 3 students will be selected to participate in this program. Participants will receive a $4,500 stipend and are eligible for free on-campus housing, which requires the purchase of a food plan. It is expected that applicants have taken at least one course in the introductory Biology series and have completed Chem 111. Research will begin May 22, 2017 and end July 28, 2017.
Dennis Cao (Chemistry) will serve as a faculty mentor for one of the 2017 Young Researchers cohorts.
Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Organic Compounds and Materials
The Cao research group synthesizes novel organic compounds that can be incorporated into functional materials. The group is currently focused on two main research areas: 1) the creation of porous hydrocarbon compounds that may be interesting for their potential as molecular cages and 2) the synthesis of redox organic compounds that are candidates for organic electronic applications.
Young Researchers will go through a “crash course” in organic chemistry and organic lab techniques during the first part of the research period. The 10 weeks of research will start in mid-May after commencement and conclude around the end of July. Students must have completed the introductory Chemistry series (Chem 111 & 112) by May 2017, and be likely to take organic chemistry.
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. Approximately 2 students will be selected to participate in this program during the summer of 2017. The 10-week research period will begin in mid May. Participants will receive a $4,500 stipend and are eligible for free on-campus housing, which requires the purchase of a food plan.
Students will work on two distinct research projects: one with Dr. Montgomery that focuses on regulatory mechanisms that control expression of developmentally important genes and the other with Dr. Chatterjea that examines the role of the immune system in the interplay between allergy and pain.
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. They prefer that students have taken either Genetics and/or Cell Biology prior to summer 2017.
Approximately 5 students will be selected to participate in this program during the summer of 2017. The 10-week research period will begin in late May. Students will start with a 5-week research experience in the Montgomery lab, and the following 5 weeks in the Chatterjea lab. Participants will receive a $4,500 stipend and are eligible for free on-campus housing, which requires the purchase of a food plan.
How to Apply- Upload the following four components to the MHRI forms. The application site will be open on January 4, 2017. Application materials must be uploaded by 5:00 pm on February 13, 2017.
- A cover letter that provides 100-250 word responses to the following questions:
- Describe your background and interest in science. What areas of science interest you and why?
- Why are you interested in this particular summer research opportunity? What attracts you to this program and what motivates you to pursue this opportunity?
- What are your tentative future goals? How might this summer research experience inform or support the development of your long-term career planning?
- A Curriculum vita or resume. Guidelines found at at this link
- An unofficial transcript. Instructions can be found at this link.
- 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.)
Apply here to submit your application for Young Researchers with Devavani Chatterjea and Mary Montgromery.
Apply Here to submit your application for Young Researchers with Dennis Cao.
Apply here to submit your application for Young Researchers with Marcos Ortega.
Selection Criteria- Top ranking candidates will demonstrate many of the following characteristics:
- Significant scientific interests as attested to in description of interests in science, by course selection, and recommendations;
- Strong interpersonal skills (attested to by references and/or interviews);
- 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. 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, Kelly MacGregor 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 Marcos Ortega, Dennis Cao, Devavani Chatterjea and Mary Montgomery.
During the summer of 2016, Dr. Leah Witus served as faculty co-mentors for the following six students:
- Erika Aguiluz '19
- Emily Chan '19
- Angel Diaz '19
- Trinity Gao '19
- Malik Mays '19
- Demani Shikomba '19
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