Ryan Afreen
COL 2023
Academic Major: Neuroscience

As a FGLI student, navigating different research areas and interests felt very overwhelming. I initially committed myself to wet-lab research, exploring genes responsible for stopping the replication of retroviruses, such as HIV, at Rockefeller University. At Penn, however, I learnt that research is multifaceted and I can engage in research projects that I am more passionate about, whether it be clinically focused or molecular bases underlying neurological diseases. Penn gave me the space to explore my research interests and eventually take on independent research projects under the mentorship of dedicated scientists and physicians. I am currently pursuing my thesis project on Neurological Sciences.

Research Positions:

  • Clinical Research Assistant at Perelman School of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Sarita Sonalkar
  • Clinical Research Assistant at the Department of Bioethics and Health Policy under the mentorship of Moira Kweluk
  • Independent Researcher under the mentorship of Dr. Nahreen Ahmed at Perelman School of Medicine, Research Assistant at Zukerman Institute of Neuroscience at Columbia University
  • Research Assistant at Dani Lab of Neurological Sciences, Research Assistant at  Bieniasz Lab at Rockefeller University 

Awards: Lauder College Champion of Inquiry Award for research initiatives, Hassenfeld Social Impact Research Grant, VPUL Research Grant, Wharton Passion Project Grant

Groups: P1P  ( Penn First Plus) student advisory board, Penn FIRST, FGLI DAB ( Dean Advisory Board), GWE ( Global Woman Empowerment), PAACH

Aleena Alex
COL 2024
Academic Major: Molecular and Cell Biology

As an incoming freshman at Penn, I really wanted to be part of the research community on-campus. However, I had no clue in terms of where to begin my search. Luckily, being part of the CURF research mixers and RPA events, clarified my interest in being part of a lab. I got to understand what being part of the research community was like, and gained insights regarding how to make the most out of the experience. Currently, I conduct research with the Paralkar Lab, studying how transcription factors and other related proteins affect normal hematopoiesis or blood cell development.

Furthermore, I am part of various other clubs on campus, including Education Pipeline, Synapse, and Peer Advising Program. I am also an aspiring Pre-med, currently fulfilling my Pre-med courses this year. I cannot wait to share my experience with everyone, and guide you to achieve your research goals this year. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have about conducting research on-campus, especially within biology/biomedical science!

  • Undergraduate Researcher, Sallan Lab, Department of Earth and Environmental Science (Spring 2021)
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Paralkar Lab, Perelman School of Medicine (Summer, 2021-present)
    •  CURF Fall Research Expo 2021

Affinity Groups: Pre-med, PennCAP, Penn-FERBS, Work-study student, Indian Women in STEM, and Northeast Philadelphian.

Yina Anyachebelu
WH'22 , COL'22
Academic Major: Business Analytics Business Economics and Public Policy International Studies

My research pursuits at Penn have always allowed me to engage in topics that I am interested in that I might not have been able to take a class in. I'm very interested in urban development so I loved working as a research assistant at the Lauder Institute working on international urban informal settlements during my freshman year.That summer, I conducted my independent research on urban transportation and social inclusion in Medellin through Wharton's Social Impact Research experience. During my sophomore year, I was a fellow at Perry World House where I worked with a team researching remittance data in the Philippines to create policy suggestions for economic development. This year, I am a co-president of Wharton Undergraduate Research Board and would love to talk to Wharton students interested in research about the wide variety of opportunities to pursue their interests even if they do not seem "business-like." Feel free to reach out to me about how to get started in research as well as doing independent research abroad.

  • Research Assistant to Dr. Restrepo-Meith on research about water policy in Colombian cities
  • Perry World House Research Fellow
  • Wharton Social Impact Research Experience
  • Research Assistant at The Lauder Institute's Global Knowledge Lab 

Affinity Groups: International, Black Wharton, Huntsman Program, PennCAP

Ella Atsavapranee
SEAS 2023
Academic Major: Bioengineering

I am passionate about translational research, science communication, and promoting diversity in engineering. At Penn, I work with Dr. Michael Mitchell in the Department of Bioengineering, studying the delivery of gene editing technologies to T cells for cancer immunotherapy. I have also conducted research on early-stage cancer detection and therapy monitoring (at Stanford University) and drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier for neurodegenerative diseases (at University of Maryland). Research has been an invaluable opportunity for me to investigate important questions and use creativity to make new discoveries. I would be happy to share my experiences and provide guidance to help you get involved in research on campus! Please feel free to reach out to me with questions regarding any step of the research process, from seeking out potential mentors to applying for fellowships.

  • Littlejohn Undergraduate Research Program (Summer 2020) 
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Mitchell Laboratory, Department of Bioengineering at University of Pennsylvania (2020 - Present) 
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Wang Laboratory, Departments of Materials Science and Engineering & Electrical Engineering at Stanford University (Summer 2020) 
  • Research Assistant, Muro Laboratory, Department of Bioengineering at University of Maryland (2018 - 2019) 
COL 2024
Academic Major: Biochemistry Biophysics

Before coming to Penn, I had a bioinformatics research project that studied the genome of a species of duckweed called Landoltia punctata. I'm currently working in the Lengner Lab, where my project involves lineage tracing of cancer metastasis using a cumulatively edited target genomic barcode. On the side, I also develop cell lines from cancer patient samples.

I'm happy to help anyone with any questions they have about the entire process of getting involved in research. I personally struggled with figuring out what I was most interested in and with reaching out to professors to get involved in their projects, so I can definitely share some of my experiences with addressing these. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Research Positions/Programs:

  •  WISE, Rutgers University, Vershon Laboratory
  •  University of Pennsylvania, Lengner Laboratory

Affinity Groups: Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences, Penn Masti

Noah Beratan
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biology

When I arrived at Penn, I knew I wanted to do research, but was intimidated since I lacked any previous experience. As I began taking more classes at Penn, I realized that I was interested in the effects of disease and disease prevention as well as immunology. Due to the pandemic, I couldn’t start research during my freshman year, but I was fortunate enough to find a lab after moving back on campus my sophomore spring semester and was able to continue my research with my PURM award during summer 2021. Despite having very little in-person biology lab experience, I was able to gain basic laboratory skills and eventually begin conducting research. My work in the lab looks at the role of copper on cellular stress responses that contribute to many neurocognitive disorders, including HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. I also do research on the effects of different HIV antiretroviral treatments on neurons and possible ways to limit neuronal damage due to these treatments. Please feel to reach out with any questions about research at Penn!

Research Positions and Awards:

  • Research Assistant in the Jordan-Sciutto Lab
  • PURM Award 2021

Affinity Groups: LGBT, Penn Band

Jacqueline Chan
COL 2024
Academic Major: Neuroscience

Coming into Penn, I knew I wanted to continue pursuing research in the biomedical sciences. Initially, the vast array of research projects listed in the CURF Research Directory presented a daunting task of narrowing down which research topics interested me and which lab I wanted to join. Throughout freshman year, my engagement with CURF and Research Peer Advisors provided me with a lot of clarity about research at Penn, including how to balance research with academics and student life, conduct interviews with PIs, and ultimately helped me narrow down my research interests. I am currently a research assistant in the ThaissLab studying the effects of the gut microbiome on nausea pathways and brown adipose tissue (fat) thermogenesis with therapeutic relevance for chemotherapy-induced nausea and obesity. I hope to use the experiences of myself and my peers to help future researchers pave their own path at Penn! Please feel free to reach out with any questions about research, summer opportunities, or the pre-med track at Penn! 

Research Positions & Awards:

  • Research Assistant, Dr. Christoph Thaiss, Department of Microbiology, Perelman School of Medicine (December 2020 - Present)
    • CURF Fall Research Expo (Fall 2021)
    • College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant (Summer 2021)
    • CURF Grant for Faculty Mentoring Undergraduate Research (Summer 2021)
  • Rising Scientist Award, Child Mind Institute (December 2019)
  • Research Assistant, Dr. Daniel Mucida, Laboratory of Mucosal Immunology, The Rockefeller University (Summer 2019)
    • Summer Science Research Program (SSRP Summer 2019)
    • SSRP Poster Symposium (Summer 2019)
  • Research Assistant, Dr. Jyothi Nagajyothi Lab; Rutgers Public Health Research Institute (Summer 2018)

Extracurriculars: Science Olympiad at Penn, PennKDSAP, Educational Pipeline

Cathy Chen
COL 2024
Academic Major: Molecular and Cell Biology

Entering Penn having never stepped foot in a lab before, getting started with research was an intimidating prospect. With the myriad of resources available at CURF and through Penn, I had the opportunity to conduct research at the John Lab with Dr. Audrey Odom John at CHOP. Her lab studies the metabolism of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in order to develop new diagnostics and identify novel antimalarial drug targets. My work at the lab focuses on understanding how specific enzymes work to confer drug resistance to the parasite. I love working at the lab, not just for the meaningful work but also for the overall environment of a diverse group of people brought together by a shared passion for science.

Conducting research has been a highlight of my Penn experience so far, and I'm excited to help fellow Penn students start on their research journey to find a project or field they love! If you have questions about finding a lab, researching full-time over the summer or through work-study, or if you're a FGLI student feeling overwhelmed about research at Penn, please don't hesitate to reach out!

  • Undergraduate Researcher at the John Lab, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program

Affinity Groups: FGLI, Work-Study, PennCAP

Alex Chen
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biochemistry

Coming to Penn, research was one thing I looked forward to most because it was an opportunity to pursue my interests in ways that I had never done before. Yet, I still found myself worried about how to get started, that was until I found the ability to find and connect with faculty through CURF.

In high school, I worked with a computational modeling program that allowed me to study the intricacies of Li-ion batteries. However, since coming to Penn, I’ve wanted to pursue research more related to the medical field. Working at the Farwell lab has been a fantastic experience where I’m able to apply knowledge from my classes and previous experiences to a novel area of research. As someone who’s enjoyed chemistry throughout my years, I’ve had difficulties finding ways to connect that interest to medical applications. The Farwell Lab utilizes an interdisciplinary team to approach novel areas, such as molecular imaging of oncology, with a recent emphasis on the rapidly growing field of immunotherapies.

I would love to discuss anything remotely related to research and how to get started. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns!  

Research Assistant, Farwell Lab, Perelman School of Medicine (2020-Present)
Independent Researcher, Computational Research on Li-ion Batteries (2018-2019)

  • Regeneron STS Scholar
  • Presented at the American Physical Society 2019 March meeting
Srish Chenna
EAS 2024
Academic Major: Bioengineering

Hi everyone! Thank you for taking the time to learn more about research and how to get involved!

Throughout my research thus far, I have been fortunate to take part in many informative, unique experiences. I have completed many different types of projects like wet-lab basic-science research, clinical research, and even remote research in an array of areas.

Much of my recent research has been concentrated in orthopedics, specifically in the spine. My work has been both basic-science and clinical; this combination has created a unique synergy that not only enables me to view topics from the perspective of a researcher but also from the perspective of a surgeon.

My email is always open to any questions at all - regarding research and not!

Research Positions:

  • Undergraduate Researcher, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Penn Medicine (2021)
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Dahia Laboratory, Orthopedic Soft Tissue Research Program, Hospital for Special Surgery/ Weill Cornell Medical School (Summer 2020 - Present)
  • Researcher, Dahia Laboratory, Orthopedic Soft Tissue Research Program, Hospital for Special Surgery/ Weill Cornell Medical School (Summer 2019)
  • Researcher, Englander Laboratory, Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (Summer 2018)
Philip Choi
COL 2022
Academic Major: Physics

My research interests are generally within the field of geophysics and earth science, with particular focuses on solid earth processes and remote sensing. I began doing research work in the summer of my sophomore year at Dr. Douglas Jerolmack's Sediment Dynamics Lab, where I investigated the morphology of cohesive rivers. I used a stream table filled with sand and simulated river formation by discharging water through it, and I later presented these results in poster form at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in 2019. I also interned at Seoul National University's Geophysical Prospecting Lab and learned to model seismicity in FORTRAN.

Most recently, I completed an NSF REU program - the UNAVCO Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students (RESESS) program - hosted in Boulder, CO. I used high-performance computing to perform DInSAR analysis on surface movements in Greenland.

Currently, I'm still involved in Dr. Jerolmack's lab with flume experiments, and have been helping out at Dr. David Goldsby's Ice Physics lab as well.

Research Positions:

  • Penn Sediment Dynamics Lab, Research Assistant
  • Seoul National University Geophysical Prospecting Lab - Research Intern
  • UNAVCO RESESS Program - Intern
  • Penn Ice Physics Lab - Research Volunteer


  • The Water Center at Penn's Student Research Grant


  • Moelis Access Science
  • Penn Outdoor's Club
  • Penn for Refugee Empowerment
Megan Chung
COL 2024
Academic Major: Molecular and Cell Biology

Prior to coming to Penn, I knew I wanted to become very involved in research but was initially intimidated due to lack of previous experience and by the sheer number of opportunities. I am extremely grateful to have served as a research assistant in the Lampson and Lee Labs during my first semester at Penn, and I currently study mitotic errors using optogenetics in the Lampson Lab. My work in the lab primarily involves wet-lab techniques such as cell culture, gene transfection, plasmid design and purification, and live imaging. This past summer, I had the opportunity to work on an independent project on the mechanical role of kinetochore fibers in anaphase chromatid segregation. Outside of research, I am involved in MEDLIFE Penn, Project Sunshine, Renewal College Fellowship, Puentes de Salud, and KDSAP.

I am incredibly grateful for all of my mentors and to be a part of the research community at Penn. Research has quickly become such an integral part of my Penn experience, and I would love to help other undergraduates get started in research and find projects they are passionate about. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding research or if you would just like to chat! :)

  • Research Assistant, Michael Lampson Lab, Department of Biology, School of Arts and Sciences, Aug. 2020 - Present 
  • Clinical Research Assistant, David Lee Lab, Perelman School of Medicine, Aug. 2020 - Jan. 2021 
  • Robert J. Holtz Fund Recipient, Summer 2021 
  • CURF Fall Research Expo, 2021 
Ashley Cousin
EAS 2024
Academic Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Even before coming to Penn I knew that I wanted to become involved in research as an undergraduate. However, as a freshman I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information and opportunities available. I ended up becoming involved with research through PURM in Dr. Bomyi Lim’s lab in the CBE department and am so grateful for that opportunity. I was able to work on a project engineering an optogenetic system that would allow for a gene to be turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ using light. This semester I am excited to be able to continue working on this project through an independent study. 

Getting started in research can be overwhelming at first so please reach out to me with any questions you may have. I’d love to chat with you about research, engineering, Penn, or really anything!

  • Research Assistant: Lim Lab, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
    • PURM: Summer 2021
    • Independent Study: September 2021-Present
Mehek Dedia
COL 2023
Academic Major: Neuroscience

During high school, I was involved in research on neurodegeneration and I knew that when I came to Penn, I wanted to be involved in similar research. During my freshman fall, I had the great opportunity to start working in Dr. Dennis Kolson’s lab. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, I had to take a break from the wet-lab research that I thoroughly enjoyed.  

As a result, I joined the Penn Program on Precision Medicine for the Brain as an undergraduate researcher. There, I’m working on several projects with Dr. Shana Stites on the stigma associated with AD and on how biologic sex and brain volume modulate the clinical pathology of AD. I am also currently an undergraduate researcher at the Chen Lab in the Perelman School of Medicine, where I’m studying cortical layer development in brain organoids and hippocampal organoid transplantation. These research experiences have been an integral part of my career at Penn and I look forward to guiding other undergraduates in their research careers at Penn. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the research process at Penn - from contacting faculty members to balancing research and school!

  • University Scholars C’23
  • Undergraduate researcher, Chen Lab, Department of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine (Spring 2021 - present)
  • Undergraduate researcher, Penn Program on Precision Medicine for the Brain (Summer 2020 - Present)
  • Research Assistant, Kolson Lab (Fall 2019 - Spring 2020)
  • Poster presentations: AAIC - Neuroscience Next (2020), AAIC - Addressing Health Disparities (2021), Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (2021) and CURF Fall Research Expo (2021)
Aditi Doiphode
COL 2024
Academic Major: Health and Societies

Hi, my name is Aditi! Part of the Class of 2024, I am a Health & Societies major and pursuing minors in Biology and Chemistry in the College. In high school, I worked at the Lengner Lab at Penn, conducting molecular biology research examining intestinal stem cells. Now, I work with Dr. Harald Schmidt in Penn’s Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. My project focuses on how disadvantage indices can be used to provide needed resources to vulnerable populations, such as COVID-19 vaccines. My research has exposed me to so many opportunities to get involved in the health policy field and to expand my knowledge beyond my academic courses.

Pursuing research can be really intimidating but often proves to be a really rewarding experience! The hardest part can sometimes be finding what you are interested in. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about any step of the process!

  • Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Summer 2019)
  • Lengner Lab, University of Pennsylvania
  • Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania
  • Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program (Summer 2021)
Janay Draughn
COL 2024
Academic Major: Communication

While I was applying to Penn, I was attracted to the idea of being able to participate in research as an undergraduate student. But, I knew very little about research, as I had very little exposure to research and research opportunities in high school. My summer-long experience as a PURM student researcher changed that and revealed to me what the process of research is like, how multifaceted it is, and how enjoyable it is. Working under the mentorship of Dr. Nkemka Anyiwo and Dr. Howard Stevenson also introduced me to new topics and disciplines that I, as someone who had more experience in the humanities than in the social sciences, didn't know I could love so much. I was fortunate enough to enjoy this amazing opportunity early on, as I was a rising second-year student during my PURM experience in the summer of 2021. I am now able and interested in pursuing different areas that require research skills, like journalistic writing and whatever I may stick with in the next three years. I have gone from being ambivalent about non-wet lab research to seeing how it provides fulfillment and readily transferable skills. 

Research experience:

- PURM student research in the summer of 2021

- Presented PURM research alongside two others at the CURF Fall Research Expo 2021

Affinity Groups: Penn Community for Justice, SisterSister, QuestBridge, The Shea Collective

Alexandra Dumas
SEAS 2024
Academic Major: Bioengineering

As an incoming student, I was actually largely undecided about what my intended major was despite knowing I would be in the world of medicine and could never had imagined I would transfer completely to the school of engineering. The research opportunities at Penn seemed numerous and overwhelming especially for someone with no experience or real understanding of the current developments in modern medicine. After the guidance of my own RPA, I quickly learned that the faculty at Penn, whilst busy, are excited to see the next generation of interested students in their field and as such I was able to find a home in the labs of Dr. Gottardi and Dr. Blinman. Today I am a passionate researcher and love the world of investigation and the constant knowledge that we are working towards helping another individual in a tangible way. I was privileged to fuse my interests in populations of unmet needs and science through the world of pediatrics and am actively involved in research projects to find new systems and ways to care for children be it through tissue engineering, device prototyping or medical economics studies.

Although a large part of my time is spent at the lab, I am an absolute foodie and am always available to meet up to talk more about research and the opportunities at Penn over a cup of coffee!

Research Positions: 

  • Gottardi Bioegnineering and Biomaterials Laboratory: Undergraduate Researcher in cartilage engineering for pediatric airway reconstruction

Awards: Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program 2021

  • Measey Stat Lab in General Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: Undergraduate Researcher in surgical device prototyping and pediatric device market research

Affinity groups: International Student, New College House West, Penn Equestrian Team

Sophie Faircloth
COL 2024
Academic Major: Psychology Linguistics

Coming from small town Louisiana, I came into Penn with zero research experience–and I mean zero. With a little luck–and a lot of support–I was able to start working with a mentor in the Wellbeing and Morality Lab who allowed me to grow into a self-sufficient research assistant. I was lucky enough to be able to join the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab through PURM in the summer of 2021 and design my own experiment in experimental semiotics on the sudden complexification of signals in a novel communication system. 

This is your gentle reminder that getting into research at a big research institution is scary, and it is more than okay to seek out help from others who have overcome the same fears (or feel free to shoot me an email if you want to talk more about any projects I’m currently on)! 

  • Research Assistant, Solomon Labs: Dr. Geoff Goodwin, Social Psychology
  • Research Assistant, Cultural Evolution of Language Lab: Dr. Gareth Roberts, Linguistics, PURM
  • Senior Research Assistant, Wellbeing and Morality Lab: Dr. Jessie Sun, Moral Psychology
  • SBSI Research Assistant Training Program
Quinn Gallagher
SEAS 2022
Academic Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

I knew I wanted to get involved in research the instant I got to Penn, so I started working in Dr. Bomyi Lim’s lab in the CBE department my first-year Spring. After gaining experience in confocal microscopy, a CURF grant the following summer provided me funding to stay in the lab and gain experience with gene-editing, cell culture, and other biological techniques to investigate direct cell reprogramming. In the wake of remote learning, I’ve transitioned into a computational role with Dr. Darko Stefanovski investigating ion selectivity in potassium ion channels. I’d love to talk to anyone about chemical engineering, engineering as a whole, or the interface between the natural sciences and engineering disciplines, especially with biological applications.

Research Positions and Awards:

  • Lim Lab, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, January 2019 – March 2020
    • CURF Grant for Undergraduate Mentorship (Summer 2019)
    • Independent Study (Spring 2020)
    • Class of 1971 Robert J. Holtz Prize
  •  Dr. Darko Stefanovski, Penn Vet, June 2020 – Present
Sagar Gupta
COL 2024
Academic Major: Biochemistry Biophysics

Hello! I'm Sagar, a biochemistry and biophysics major passionate about research and scientific communication. I work in Dr. Nikolaos Sgourakis's Lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where I am developing and using computational protein modeling software to understand how mutations help cancer cells evade the immune system. Although my work is computational, in high school I conducted projects in molecular biology and microbiology. Outside of research, I am involved in PennScience Journal and Moelis Access Science as well as CURF's Undergraduate Advisory Board. 

I want to help students navigate the rich academic community at Penn and love connecting students with labs and mentors that are a good match for them. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the research process at Penn!

Research Positions

  • Sgourakis Lab, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (December 2020 – Present)
    • Summer RosettaCon 2021 Conference
    • Center for Computational and Genomic Medicine Monthly Meeting 
    • CURF Fall Research Expo
    • Career Services Funding Award
  • Francis Lab, California State University, Bakersfield (2017-2020)
    • American Phytopathological Society National Plant Health Meeting
Jessica Hao
COL 2023 (Bio-Dental)
Academic Major: Biology

Reaching out to professors and getting started with research at Penn was initially a daunting experience for me. After many, many attempts, I was finally able to find a lab filled with projects that suited my goals and passions and people I look forward to seeing every day. I could never have come to the place I am today without the continued guidance of upperclassmen. 

Since my freshman year, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of researching under Professor Fusun Ozer at Penn Dental Medicine. My work at the lab primarily involves using wet- and dry-lab techniques to investigate the effects of zeolite clinoptilolite, a porous compound with ion-exchange properties, on the antimicrobial and mechanical properties of restorative dental materials. We recently expanded the scope of our project to explore the therapeutic effects of zeolite as an anti-cancer drug delivery system. I have experience in writing systematic review papers, conducting in vitro experiments, and navigating the BIOL 399/499 independent study research courses. I would love to guide students in these areas by proofreading papers, grant applications, resumés, and more!

Conducting research at Penn has opened new doors for me in ways I could never have previously imagined, and I hope to be able to give as much back to the Penn research community as it is giving to me. I am so excited to use my experience to help other students take the first step towards research at Penn and find a project they are passionate about. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, and I am looking forward to hearing from you! :)

  • Student researcher under Dr. Fusun Ozer, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (2019-present)
    • 2021 Velay Women's Science Research Fellow 
    • 2020 College House Research Fellow
    • Systematic review publication, Acta Stomatologica Croatia 
    • Poster/Oral presentations (2021 CURF Fall Research Expo, 2021 IADR/AADR/CADR General Session, 2021 CED-IADR/NOF Oral Health Research Congress, 2021 ConsEuro Congress, 2021 National Collegiate Research Conference, CURF Spring 2021 Research Fair)
  • Student researcher under Dr. Kelley Bethoney, The Episcopal Academy (2017-2019)
    • 2019 PJAS State Competition First Award; 2018 Regional Competition First Award, Perfect Score, Robust Research Award
    • 2018-2019 Lilley Research Fellow
Eusha Hasan
COL 2022
Academic Major: Physics

As a student studying the natural sciences on the premedical track, I am deeply passionate about approaching research problems rigorously, with the ultimate goal of directly affecting patient care. I love studying the biomedical applications of the highly theoretical material I learn in the classroom. As a current joint researcher between two groups, I employ my interest in MRI physics and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRDs) to obtain crisper, cleaner images of the brains of posthumous ADRDs patients. My path towards my current research interest was nonlinear and full of introspection, and being a mentee in the Research Peer Advising (RPA) program allowed me to narrow my interests and garner support as I explored various disciplines of research. I am excited to bear the RPA torch and share my passion and knowledge to help you explore your potential interest in research! Please feel free to contact me by email.

  • Research Assistant to Dr. Yi-Wei Chang on imaging macromolecular structures on the surface of parasites via cryo-electron microscopy (May 2019 - August 2019)
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Chamith Rajapakse on creating neural networks to expedite the analysis of musculoskeletal MRI, CT, and DXA scans (April 2020 - August 2020)
    • Co-author of two abstracts, one presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2020 annual conference, and the other presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society 2021 annual conference
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Shari Brosnahan on the symptomatology of post-COVID syndrome (May 2020 - December 2020)
    • Co-author of an abstract presented at the American Thoracic Society 2021 annual conference
  • The Imaging Neurodegeneration Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (IN-SURE) during summer 2021
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Dylan Tisdall and Dr. David Irwin on optimizing ex vivo MR image acquisition of post-mortem Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRDs) brain samples (June 2021 - Present)

Affinity Groups: Penn Society of Physics Students, Powerbuilding, Greek Life

Justin James
COL 2022
Academic Major: Neuroscience

Coming to Penn, I knew I wanted to be part of a lab; however, I had no idea where to start, what being part of research entailed, and how to make the most of the experience. I believe what makes my research experience unique is the fact that I had to experience a lot to get to the point where I am now where I feel most happy and proud! This journey allowed me to be receptive to my own passions that are driving my aspirations in life.

From exposure through anthropological, philosophical, and neurobiological courses relating to the study of pain, I became stimulated to study and understand the mechanisms involved in constructing pain in the brain. I am fortunate enough to have found and joined the Corder Lab at Penn to help me explore and deepen my understanding on the neural basis of pain. Currently, I am assisting on a project studying the neural circuitry behind emotional pain and how its manipulation can lead to reduced anhedonia in a chronic pain state.

If you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or wanting to know more about getting through the daunting, yet exciting journey of doing research at Penn, especially now that we are doing research remotely, please feel free to reach out to me!

  • Sarma Lab (May-August 2019)
  • Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorder Center (May 2019 - January 2020)
  • Corder Lab (January 2020 - Present)

Affinity Groups: FGLI

Sarah Kane
COL 2023
Academic Major: Physics

Before arriving at Penn, I had no research experience and was excited but nervous to begin. Because I want to pursue a career in astrophysics academia, I knew that research would be a crucial part of my undergraduate experience. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with Professor Bhuv Jain from the Department of Physics and Astronomy through the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM) in the summer of 2020. Our goal was to identify new planets outside of our own solar system using a type of machine learning algorithm called a neural network, and I continued that research during that 2020-2021 academic year. This past summer, I started a new project with Professor Jain involving large groups of galaxies called clusters—some of the largest structures in the universe! IMy research involves programming in Python and machine learning, so I am happy to chat about those techniques as well as physics and astronomy research in general.

Having been born legally blind, I also have a strong interest in the accessibility of science to people with disabilities. I was involved in usability tests for Astronify, a NASA initiative developed to turn certain astronomical data into sound to make it more accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in the intersection of disability advocacy and science, as I would love to connect with more people on the subject!

  • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring (PURM)
  • Research Assistant to Professor Bhuvnesh Jain, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Affinity groups:

  • Disability Advocacy @ Penn
  • Penn Society of Physics Students
  • Penn Women in Physics
Eashwar Kantemneni
COL 2024
Academic Major: Neuroscience

In high school, I had lots of experience in dry-lab, bioinformatics research in psychiatry and oncology. When I came to Penn, however, I was eager for a change, instead seeking to do wet-lab research in neurodegeneration, which was absolutely fascinating to me. My second semester, once I arrived on campus, I was able to get that opportunity, joining the lab of Dr. Douglas Smith in the Perelman School of Medicine. Our research is focused on studying how diffuse axonal injury from severe concussions leads to progressive neurodegeneration and eventually the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, I was not able to start working in-person at the lab until August 2021. Instead, this past summer I went back to my hometown of Cincinnati, and I conducted orthopaedics research under the mentorship of Dr. Roger Cornwall via the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program at the University of Cincinnati. I studied the effects of the PSMB6 gene on contracture development in neonatal brachial plexus injury (NBPI). Through the experience, I was able to learn and practice many molecular techniques such as Western Blot and qPCR, and present my research on a poster. I've learned a lot throughout my journey so far in research, and I look forward to helping other eager undergraduates do the same.

  • Undergraduate Researcher, Smith Neurotrauma Lab, Department of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine (January 2021-Present)
  • Research Intern, Cornwall Lab, Orthopaedics Department, Cincinnati Children's Medical Center- UC SURF Program (May 2021-August 2021)
  • Research Intern, University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute (June 2019-December 2020)
  • Research Intern, DelBello Lab, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati School of Medicine (June 2018-August 2020)
  • Poster Presentations: University of Cincinnati SURF Poster Symposium (2021)
Adrian Ke
Academic Major: History

Research at Penn may seem overwhelming, but it can be an extremely fulfilling and valuable experience once you get started! I was able to find Dr. Mackey’s lab after looking at research projects which interested me on the psychology department’s website. As a pre-health student, the blend between psychology, neuroscience, and child-related paradigms really interested me. The lab as a whole focuses on child brain development and how the environment affects it, but my interests are specific to parent-child interactions and MRI analyses. My current project examines how normative harsh parenting style impacts brain structure (specifically cortical thickness) of children. I have also worked in the past with Dr. Schmidt about incentivizing participation in COVID vaccine trials for underrepresented populations in health studies--a valuable and interdisciplinary experience connecting my interests in public health and psychology. Throughout this past summer, I’ve been able to grow my quantitative skillset, in R programming and brain scan editing, as well as learn a ton about neuroscience research. If you’re at all interested in neuroscience, healthcare, or pediatric research, feel free to reach out!

  • University Scholar
  • Research Assistant, Dr. Allyson Mackey, Changing Brain Lab (2019 - Present)
  • Research Assistant, Dr. Harald Schmidt, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (2020-2021)
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Academic Major: Biology

I am fascinated by microorganisms and their roles in human health and disease. My past and present projects have afforded me exciting opportunities to study fungi, bacteria, viruses, and now parasites. I came to Penn after completing a two-year project involving the recovery of and screening of clinically relevant fungi from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Today, most of my time is spent in the Bushman Lab studying the virome of human parasites and completing my thesis project on the host tropism of redondoviruses. I have published two first-author papers while at Penn and I have an accepted review awaiting publication. Outside of the lab, I am a Research Peer Advisor with CURF and Founder and President of the Penn Infectious Disease Club.


Awards Received

  • Goldwater Scholar (Awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, Apr. 2021)
  • Translational Research Intern (Awarded by the National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2021)
  • University Scholar (Awarded by the University of Pennsylvania, Dec. 2020)
  • Student Presentation Award Recipient at the Philadelphia Infection and Immunity Forum (Awarded by the American Society for Microbiology, Dec. 2020)
  • Marks Family Writing Fellow (Awarded by Awarded by the Marks Family Writing Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Dec. 2020)
  • College Alumni Society Research Grant Recipient (Awarded by the University of Pennsylvania, Apr. 2020)

Research positions held 

  • Research Assistant in the Bushman Laboratory (Perelman School of Medicine, Sept. 2019 to Present)
  • Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of Infectious Diseases (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Apr. 2020 to Present)
  • Clinical Data Analyst in the Division of Infectious Diseases (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Apr. 2020 to Dec. 2020)
  • Research Assistant in the Edgcomb Laboratory (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Jun. 2017 to Dec. 2019)
  • Student Intern in the German Laboratory (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the National Aeronautics and Space Association, Jun. to Aug. 2015 & 2016)


Christine Kong
COL 2024
Academic Major: Biology Health and Societies

Coming from a high school in which research was heavily emphasized, I was lucky enough to know that I wanted to continue research at Penn and wanted to take advantage of all the resources that CURF and Penn offer. After reaching out to several PIs, I found myself in the Ganetzky Lab, part of the Mitochondrial Medicine department at CHOP. As a lab we are interested in inherited mitochondrial respiratory chain disease, with a goal of applying biochemical approaches to improve diagnostic modalities for mitochondrial disease. I love the hands-on and applicable nature of my research—I work on mutated cells that my PI collects from her patients! If you are ever feeling overwhelmed over what kind of research to pursue or on how to contact PIs, or even if you just want to chat about my research, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

  • Undergraduate Research Assistant to Dr. Rebecca Ganetzky in Mitochondrial Medicine (Division of Human Genetics) at CHOP (2021)
  • Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Garcia Center for Materials Science Research at Stony Brook University (2020) 
  • Poster presentation at the American Chemical Society Spring National Conference (2020) and at the International Energy and Sustainability Conference (2020)
Philip Krotenok
COL 2024
Academic Major: Economics

Taking part in research here at Penn can have dramatic impacts on forming news passions and interests, as it’s done for me. Prior to taking part in PURM during my summer after freshman year, I was intimidated by the idea of using data science tools and computer programming to facilitate biomedical research. Despite such hesitancy, my mentor curated a growth-mindset environment which enabled me to gain new skills in coding languages such as Python and R. My passions have now grown to involve data science and its applications within the field of medicine. Particularly, topics within health economics grabs my attention.

Finding the right research project never comes easy and what you enjoy researching now could change easily within a semester at Penn. My advice to new researchers is to put yourself out there and know that faculty are just as excited on taking new research mentees as students are on finding new mentors. You’re welcome to email me with any questions at all regarding research, medicine, data science, and anything that sparks your curiosity.

  • Jo Lab, Perelman School of Medicine Department of Radiology, (May 2020 – Present)
    • PURM grant

Affinity groups: QuestBridge, FGLI

Arnav Lal
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biophysics Philosophy

Hi!  My name is Arnav, and I am a Biophysics and Philosophy major in the class of 2023.  I have had the amazing opportunities to study biological systems such as developing embryos and dynamic microbiomes in labs at Penn.  Outside of research, I am involved in Penn's Philosophy for the Young (P4Y) Project, Penn Taekwondo Club, and am a part of Steering for Stouffer College House.  My research spans an array of methods, from philosophical analysis of embryo utilization, to biophysical modelling of physiological states in embryology, and even to pathogenic bioinformatics analysis.I realize that finding a lab to work in as an undergraduate is both a daunting and exciting experience, and so feel free to reach out to me if you want to talk about any stage of this process!

  • University Scholars C'23
  • Researcher, Planet Lab, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Researcher, Penn Fertility Care
  • 2019 College Alumni Society Research Grant
  • Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow for the 2020-2021 Forum on Choice
Yujung Lee
NURS 2023
Academic Major: Nursing

Coming to Penn, I knew I wanted to be involved in research. However, I felt lost in the process of researching different labs at Penn and frustrated that I was getting behind. It was not until Spring semester my sophomore year when I finally got an offer to be a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Foteini Mourkioti. As I interacted with patients suffering from chronic heart conditions at the bedside through nursing clinical, I developed a deeper interest in investigating the potential causes of cardiomyopathy on a genetic level. My PURM research project focused on investigating potential causes of morphological changes in the heart muscle with the absence of an essential gene called TRF2. Through this experience, I was able to truly delve into the field of cardiac stem cell research and grow as an independent research assistant.

I would be more than happy to help anyone navigate the research labs and get on a good start in their research journey at Penn. Please reach out to me with any questions about how to get involved in research through CURF, PURM, or simply to talk about anything!

Affinity Groups: Work-study, Benjamin Franklin Scholars (BFS) in Nursing, Penn Appetit, SNAP (Student Nurses at Penn)

  • Research assistant at Mourkioti Lab, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (May 2021 - Present)
  • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM) Recipient (Summer 2021)
  • Poster presentation at Penn CURF Fall Research Expo 2021
Brian Lee
COL 2022
Academic Major: Biology

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to study Alzheimer’s Disease from an imaging genetics perspective under Prof. Li Shen at the Perelman School of Medicine since last September. My work has enabled me to become familiar with processing omics data, including genomic (WGS), proteomics (gene expression), and metabolomics data. I am thankful that research has pushed me to explore the core biological principles I learned about in class and interact with researchers from a variety of academic backgrounds.

If you’re a transfer trying to find a lab, are considering computational research, or need tips for WFH, please don’t hesitate to email!

  • Shen Lab, Institute for Biomedical Informatics, Perelman School of Medicine (September 2019 – Present)
  • The College Alumni Society Board of Managers and Presidents Undergraduate Research Grants (Spring and Summer 2020)
  • Rodin College House Research Fellow (Spring 2020 – present)
  • Presented posters at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2020 and the CURF Fall 2020 Research Expo

Affinity Groups: Transfer

Abenezer Lemma
COL 2023
Academic Major: Neuroscience

As a freshman whose resume did not include extensive research experience, I was anxious to apply for research roles or reach out to faculty. Early on, in my freshman year, I was able to talk to an RPA who encouraged me to go through the CURF research directory and reach out to labs of my interest. Shortly after, I was able to connect with a Cardiac Imaging group and work with Dr. Han at Penn Medicine. Currently, I work at the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research in the Cardiology department as a research assistant. We are involved in various projects including, a correlational study that compares ECGs and ECHOs of patients with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). I am here to provide the same support I received and more, so I full-heartedly encourage you to reach out.

Research Positions/Awards

  • PURM 2020
  • Hassenfeld Social Impact Research Grant (Summer 2020)
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Pediatric Cardiology, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (June 2020 – Present)  
  • Research Assistant, Cardiac Imaging, Penn Medicine (December 2019 – May 2020)
  • Research Assistant, Discher Lab, Penn Medicine (November 2020 – May 2021)
Selene Li
COL 2022
Academic Major: Cognitive Science

I first wanted to get involved in research as a freshman at Penn. However, the idea of reaching out to professors and asking to speak to them about their research or sitting in on a lab meeting sounded extremely scary. I was also faced with an overwhelming number of potential projects in the CURF Research Directory and I simply did not know where to even begin searching. After meeting my own RPA, I was able to get a good idea on how I should go about narrowing down projects based on my interests. Eventually, I found myself in the lab of Dr. Yale Goldman after trying out a few different projects with other PIs. In this lab, I have worked on developing fluorescence indicator proteins from GFP variants to be used as force sensors. While working remotely due to COVID, I have focused my efforts on programming to help with data analysis. This semester, I will work on incorporating various machine learning techniques into my programming to allow for more efficient data-analysis. As someone who is also interested in computer science, this project is a great intersection of my interests in coding and biomedical sciences. 

I hope that I can use my own experience in getting involved in research to help other students who aren't sure how to find a research project for the very first time. Feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions!

  • CURF Grant for Undergraduate Mentorship (Summer 2020)
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Yale Goldman in Dept. of Physiology in Perelman School of Medicine
  • CURF Grant for Faculty Mentoring Undergraduate Research (2021)
Kevin Liang
COL '22, SEAS '22
Academic Major: Linguistics Computer Science

This summer, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Michael Frank and Dr. George Kachergis at Stanford. I worked on a large-scale comparison of various word learning models using more naturalistic data. This involved a lot of coding in R on things such as data processing, model optimization, and creating a lot of graphs! Last year, I worked with Professor Charles Yang to investigate the process by which children learn the parts of speech of words. During that project, we tested the viability of a novel approach to how children generalize from specific examples to general rules known as the tolerance principle. This project involved a significant amount of coding and working with various corpora. Previously, I have also done research in phonetics on the acoustic properties of glottalic stops in Q'eqchi' - a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala. Additionally, I have also worked on a fieldwork project analyzing the changed tone system of Taishanese - a language spoken in Southern China. These projects have involved a wide range of research methods from fieldwork to coding to statistical analysis. I have been very fortunate to have been able to work on a wide range of different research projects and would be happy to talk to anyone about the process. No matter what field you're in, please feel free to reach out to me. I'd love to brainstorm some ideas together!

  • University Scholars C’22
  • University Scholars Summer Research Funding (Summer 2019, Summer 2020, Summer 2021) 
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Department of Linguistics
  • Poster Presentation, Acoustical Society of America 2019
  • Oral Presentation, Penn Linguistics Conference 2020
  • Poster Presentation, Boston University Conference on Language Development 2021
Yuzhou Lin
COL 2022
Academic Major: Mathematics

It has been an incredibly beneficial experience for me to work as a research assistant in the Department of Statistics. I am interested in the applications of advanced statistical and computing methods in public health and social science. Topics in statistics including causal inference in observational studies, Bayesian multilevel modeling, and functional data analysis especially appeal to me. Several projects that I have immersed myself into include studying the association of neighborhood racial compositions and gun homicides, analyzing cerebral malaria pathogeneses, and detecting chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology. I really appreciate CURF for offering me terrific resources and supporting my research. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about getting involved in research as an undergraduate, seeking for resources in CURF, or learning statistics in general, and I will try my best to help!

Alyssia Liu
COL 2024
Academic Major: Neuroscience

When I arrived at Penn, I knew I wanted to get involved in research, but without prior experience, I felt intimidated and lost on how to begin. However, with some guidance and time, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join a lab filled with projects that suited my niche interests (ex. oral-systemic link) and conduct research under the mentorship of Dr. Dana Graves at Penn Dental Medicine through PURM. The Graves Lab studies several aspects of oral biology, with recent interests focusing on the impact of diabetes, a systemic condition, and gene deletion in wound healing and in periodontal disease. During my time in Graves Lab so far, I have learned about the importance of the “re-” in “research,” gained experience and knowledge in both wet and dry lab techniques, assisted in oral surgery on mice, and more. I also cherish being able to work with, learn from, and create bonds with visiting scholars from around the world, dentists, postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers, and current dental students. I would love to guide aspiring student researchers in achieving their specific goals, finding research opportunities suited to their interests and passions, and realizing the exciting variety and tangibility of research at Penn!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about identifying personal research interests, reaching out to professors, the research process in general, and even getting to know about what research may look like as an undergraduate student! In addition to research, I would also be excited to talk about music, archery, and being a pre-dental student at Penn!

  • Student Researcher - Dr. Dana Graves, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Summer 2021- Present)
  • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM) Grant Recipient (Summer 2021)
  • Poster presentation at Penn CURF Fall Research Expo 2021
  • Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award (Fall 2019)

Affinity groups: Penn Symphony Orchestra

Alyssa Lu
ENG 2022
Academic Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

After being in two labs, participating in PURM, conducting independent study research, and working for the Kleinman Center, I have encountered many benefits and challenges of doing research at Penn that I would be happy to share with aspiring researchers. I am separately a part of CURF's Undergraduate Advisory Board which works to connect undergraduates to CURF resources through events and information distribution. If you have any questions about getting started in research, being active in CURF, or more specifically about my research field/department, I would love to answer them.

My research expertise lies in energy. During my junior year, I did research on energy policy and legislation with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. Prior to that, I worked with Dr. Pikul on studying the technical and economic benefits of a zinc-iodide battery system and writing a review paper on energy storage systems. I also previously worked on fuel cell catalysis in Dr. Gorte's lab.

  • January 2019-May 2019: Research Assistant, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Gorte Lab (fuel cell/catalysis research)
  • June 2019-August 2019: Research Assistant through PURM, Mechanical Engineering, Pikul Lab (research conducted on batteries with application in grid storage)
  • August 2019-May 2020: Independent Study Research Assistant in the Pikul Group
  • August 2020-May 2021: Research Assistant, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
Rebecca Morse
COL 2022
Academic Major: Biology

Sophomore year, I had the incredible opportunity of working in Dr. Jim Riley’s lab, which focuses on engineering our own immune systems to fight diseases like cancers and HIV through T-cell immunotherapy. The pandemic shifted my plans for that summer, but I was fortunate enough to join Dr. Mary Regina Boland’s lab remotely, where I used Electronic Health Records to investigate postpartum depression and developed an ontology of its risk factors; I recently submitted this work for publication as first author. Now, I plan to complete my senior thesis in Dr. Riley's lab on the metabolism of various Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells. 

As a transfer, I’ve now experienced two universities, basic and translational research, and both in-person and remote opportunities. I also joined a lab in my second semester sophomore year as a work-study student and took a leave of absence to conduct full-time research in the Boland lab during the Spring 2021 semester. If you have questions about my research, identifying your research goals, being a transfer, doing work-study, researching full-time (over the summer or during a leave), beginning research as a sophomore or starting research second semester, please reach out!

  • Undergraduate Researcher, Boland Lab, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, CHOP (Summer 2020 - Summer 2021)
  • Contributor, Covid Registry of Off-label & New Agents (CORONA), PennMed (Summer 2020)
  • Translational Research Internship Program, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (Summer 2020)
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Riley Lab, Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, PennMed (Fall 2019 - Present)
  • Beckman Scholar, Villanova University (2019)
  • Undergraduate Research Assistant, Knepper Lab, Department of Biology, Villanova University (2018-2019)

Affinity Groups: Transfer, Work Study

Gloria Mpundu
NURS 2022
Academic Major: Nursing

When I came to Penn, I knew very little about nursing research but it sparked my interests after learning more about it. I had my first experience at Penn as a Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) scholar where I worked with Dr. Eileen Lake and Dr. Liisa Laine. This program cemented my interest in research and I have been involved in research since then. I have worked on different projects on telemedicine in long-term facilities, neonatal abstinence syndrome, nurses’ mental health, sexual & reproductive health/HIV prevention and mental health among adults with intellectual disabilities. I have also worked on a policy project researching the exploitation of female migrant workers in the Kafala system to create policies that would mitigate precarious working conditions they are forced to endure. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about getting involved in undergraduate research.

Research experience: 

  • Summer Undergraduate Minority Rersearch (SUMR) scholar 2020
  • World House Student Fellow 2020
  • Global Research Internship Program (GRIP) 2021
  • Research Assistant to Dr. Eileen Lake at Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research 2020-Present

Affinity groups: International, FGLI, PennCAP, Lauder College House RA

Ashrita Nagpal
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biology

Research has given me a complementary perspective on my academic interests. Beyond my major in Biology, my coursework in Deaf Studies and Sign Language has been my favorite. I've learned about the cultural and social understandings of Deafness, and through my regenerative medicine research on the auditory pathway, I get to understand the clinical side of deafness. I joined this lab in the summer of 21 through PURM, and I'm so excited to continue there until I graduate. As a transfer student - which meant I had one year less at Penn - I felt extra pressure to navigate and narrow down on all the research opportunities out here. Through my not-so-good to great research experiences, from behavioral research to wet-lab work - I have plenty to share and I'd love to hear from you! Please reach out anytime :)

Research positions and awards:

  • Undergraduate Researcher, Brant Lab, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center (May 2021-Present)
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Center for Autism Research, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (May 2021-August 2021)
Chinaza Okonkwo
COL 2022
Academic Major: History Philosophy

I knew when I began my undergraduate journey at Penn that I wanted to participate in research. However, I wasn't sure what humanities research looked like coming from a high school where anyone who even did research, did science-based work. Throughout my time at Penn, I have had the opportunity to work with multiple professors and Ph.D. students in the Penn Museum, Political Science department, School of Social Work and Policy, and the Graduate School of Education through PURM. I am now working on my own independent research project on Igbo philosophy and thought with the supervision and support of Professor Detlefsen in the Philosophy department. 

  • 2021 Beinecke Scholar
  • 2021 Nnamdi Azikiwe Prize
  • Andrea Mitchell Undergraduate Fellow
  • Wolf Humanities Undergraduate Fellow
  • Mellon Mays Research Fellow
  • Perry World House Student Fellow
  • Independent Researcher, Igbo Philosophy Project
  • PURM Award Recipient 
  • Research Assistant, Political Science Department 
  • Research Assistant, Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology
  • Research Assistant, School of Social Work and Policy 

Affinity groups: Black, FGLI, Benjamin Franklin Scholar, Robeson Cooper Scholar

Emma Palermo
COL 2022
Academic Major: Psychology

I became interested in research after taking my first psychology classes at Penn, and started getting involved the summer after my freshman year. My research interests center on mental health and psychopathology, specifically emotion regulation and suicide. I am interested in discovering how difficulties in emotion regulation contribute to the development of suicidal ideation and in developing and evaluating treatments to improve emotion regulation. Currently, I am working on research projects concerned with developing scalable online mental health interventions, conducting cost-effectiveness analyses, and developing a DBT app for individuals with borderline personality disorder that can be used as an adjunct to therapy. This year, I am also excited to conduct my thesis on sleep and emotion regulation. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the field of mental health, research, or how to get started!

Research Positions:

  • Research assistant and thesis student, Sleep Neurophysiology and Psychopathology Lab, Dr. Jennifer Goldschmeid (December 2020-present)
  • Senior research assistant, Penn Center for Mental Health, Dr. Heather Nuske (September 2020-present)
  • Research assistant, Wilks Lab, Dr. Chelsey Wilks (August 2020-present)
  • Research assistant, DeRubeis Lab, Dr. Robert DeRubeis (May 2020-present)
  • Research assistant, Boundaries of Anxiety and Depression Lab, Dr. Ayelet Ruscio (May 2019-present)
  • Research assistant and independent study student, Penn Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, Dr. Rebecca Pearl (September 2019-December 2020)
Michelle Paolicelli
ENG 2022
Academic Major: Materials Science and Engineering

Participating in PURM during the Summer of 2019 gave me the opportunity to see what my various interests look like at the professional level. I worked at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on quality improvement initiatives surrounding nurse workload and the ways that patients are monitored. This experience gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the way that hospitals operate, deepening my interest in medicine. Additionally, I learned about the field of human factors engineering and how it can be used to optimize sociotechnical systems. As an engineer, seeing the intersection of engineering and medicine was fascinating. Currently, I am a lab assistant at the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM). This role has allowed me to learn to use advanced lab equipment and prepare materials for other researchers. It has been a great opportunity to become familiar with the techniques and equipment used in Materials Science and related research. If you are interested in Materials Science research or the intersection of medical and engineering research please feel free to reach out with any questions! 

  • PURM Grant recipient Summer 2019, Dr. Chris Bonafide  
  • Lab Assistant: Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), March 2020-Present
Winston Peloso
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biophysics Mathematics Physics

I’ve been pursuing research since I had a position in a dark matter lab at Princeton during my gap year before college. I then spent a year at Boulder, where my time working in a liquid crystals lab helped me develop a sense of career trajectory, before transferring to Penn. At both schools I found the infrastructure dedicated to connecting me to mentors and lab opportunities incredibly helpful. Working up the nerve to explore research can be hard, but I’d like to help you take advantage of what CURF and Penn have to offer.

Current research:

  • Investigating phase behavior of colloids, analyzing data from NASA ISS experiment (PI Arjun Yodh)
  • Characterizing quantum emission of defects in 2D materials (PI Lee Bassett)

Past research:

  • Preparing and characterizing DNA liquid crystal samples (PI Noel Clark)
  • Developing purification methods for scintillating crystals, constructing a WIMP detector (PI Frank Calaprice)

Affinity groups:

  • Transfer students
  • LGBT+
  • Greek life
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Academic Major: Medical Anthropology and Global Health

Over the course of my three years at Penn, research and CURF have been crucial to my development as a future physician and anthropologist. Originally from Northern New Jersey, I am incredibly humbled to be presenting my work for a fourth, and final, year. I am a University Scholar, studying Medical Anthropology and Hispanic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. My work has spanned 7 studies over 2 countries, and has mostly delved into the intersections between medicine and anthropological inquiry. I find the dynamic interactions between social, political, economic, and biological states of being powerful indicators of individual and population-based health status. More specifically, my research interests include women's reproductive health, fertility, feminine perceptions of being, reproductive policing & agency, and implementation science. I proudly serve as a Research Peer Advisor for CURF, a Peer Writing Tutor for the Marks Family Center for Writing Excellence at Penn, and a member of Penn Singers Light Opera Company. Even if you don't have any research-related questions, come chat! I am happy to talk more about my own research journey or guide others through theirs.

  • Independent Researcher, Guatemalan Health Initiative (May 2019-present)
  • Independent Researcher, Reproductive Health & Fertility Assessment (June 2020-present)
  • Research Personnel, COVID-19 Health Experiences Assessment, (March 2020-present)
  • Research Personnel, Sayre Health Needs Assessment (June 2020-present)
  • Research Personnel, Perelman School of Medicine Department of Nephrology (Present)
  • Research Personnel, Biocultural Anthropology Methods Lab (November 2018-Present)
  • PURM Award Recipient
  • Distinguished Presenter: Society for Applied Anthropology 2021 Conference
  • Research Peer Advisor
Evan Qiang
COL 2024
Academic Major: Biochemistry Physics

I was always interested in pursuing a research career even before coming to Penn, but I was also intimidated by what undergraduate research really entailed. After joining Dr. James Shorter’s lab in the spring of my freshman year, I learned how to combine my preexisting scientific knowledge with new lab techniques to further refine my research interests. My current project focuses on a human mitochondrial protein that shows promise in combating toxic protein aggregates, which are hallmarks of common neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Throughout my lab experience thus far, I have gained valuable wet lab skills that have deepened my understanding of the world of research. If you’re interested in the intersection of biology, chemistry, and physics or have any questions regarding research at Penn, please feel free to contact me!

Affinity group: Vagelos Molecular Life Sciences Scholar

  •        Dr. James Shorter Lab, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (Spring 2021-present)
Thriaksh Rajan
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biology Medical Anthropology and Global Health

From a young age, I witnessed how medical care varies widely across the globe. As a result, my research interests focus on improving the quality and delivery of healthcare to all people. I enjoy analyzing population health both inwardly and comparatively. This past summer, I investigated several etiologies of vertebral lumbar fracture in U.S. emergency departments. In summary, I found that housing injuries were the main risk factor, accounting for effectively 2 of every 5 low back fractures annually. I hope to refine my data science skills during my time at Penn, so I can better inform healthcare providers and policymakers of effective action plans. I am an open book and an available resource for any Penn students interested in anthropology, biology, or public health.

  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Fellow (2020-Present)
  • Research Assistant at Penn Spine Center (2020-Present)
  • Laboratory Assistant at Cancer Institute of New Jersey (2018)
  • PBS Stand Up To Cancer Emperor Science Award (2018)
  • New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar (2017)
Dana Raphael
COL 2022
Academic Major: French and Francophone Studies Neuroscience

Coming into Penn with an interest in neuroscience and medicine, I was eager to become involved in research. However, given the infinite amount of research opportunities available, I was uncertain how to approach the process of finding a lab that aligned with my interests and a mentor who would support me in my academic pursuits. After meeting with a Research Peer Advisor, I learned about the PURM program and the vast amount of valuable resources offered by CURF. Through PURM, I was very fortunate to be matched with Dr. Amelia Eisch’s lab at CHOP, where I spent the summer after my freshman year. I had such an incredible experience in the lab that summer and have been conducting research there ever since, studying the role of microglia, the brain’s immune cells, in mediating the response to perinatal hypoxia-ischemia. Apart from my interest in science, I am also passionate about the French language and culture, and hope to complete an independent study during my senior year. Engaging in research has been an enlightening and integral part of my Penn experience. I would love to help other students navigate through the process of becoming involved in research, so if you have any questions about research or anything else, please feel free to reach out to me!

  • Research Assistant, Dr. Amelia Eisch’s Lab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Summer 2019-present)
  • Mary L. And Matthew S. Santirocco College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant (Spring 2020)
  • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM) (Summer 2019)
  • Poster Presentation at Penn’s CURF Fall Research Expo 2019
  • Research Assistant, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis’ Lab, University of Virginia School of Medicine (2017-2018)
Karan Sampath
EAS 2024
Academic Major: Networked and Social Systems Engineering

My research pursuits at Penn focus on interdisciplinary analysis in the fields of computational social science. Over my time as a part of the Penn Computational Social Science Lab, I helped design a surveyor framework to input and process worker surveys to supplement our large-scale lab experiments. We also studied the workings of commonsense, including its predictors and prevalence in various knowledge domains. Over the summer, as part of the PURM program, I worked at the Perelman School of Medicine on modeling pollution indicators versus demographic concentrations in the Philadelphia region. The funding from CURF allowed me to work in a collaborative environment, which was invaluable during a pandemic.

If you have any questions about the research process or just want to talk about data science and computational analysis, please feel free to reach out!

Affinity Groups: International, Lauder College House

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COL 2023
Academic Major: Physics

I knew I wanted to get involved in research, so I reached out to Professor Danielle S. Bassett during my senior year of high school to sit in on one of her classes. She generously gave me the opportunity to work in her lab helping with data collection. Since coming to Penn, I have transitioned into taking ownership of independent research projects, as well as helping out on larger team projects. While I have gained experience in many areas, I am most passionate about the intersection between condensed matter physics and network science. Outside of my research, I am the club lacrosse team president and a volunteer tutor through Moelis Access Science. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about getting involved in research, balancing research and classes, applying for scholarships, or even if you just want to chat!

  • Undergraduate Research Assistant, Complex Systems Lab, Professor Danielle S. Bassett
  • NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient
  • University Scholars
Joseph Squillaro
COL 2022
Academic Major: Philosophy, Politics and Economics

I have always been fascinated by the age of technological acceleration we live in and how we can better understand the cyber world around us which has been integrated into so many facets of our lives. When I first came to Penn, I knew I wanted to continue this interest and do research in cybersecurity and technology policy, but with so many research opportunities available, I was easily overwhelmed. Thankfully the RPA program through CURF clarified my journey into research at Penn and introduced me to the College House Research Program where I was the Research Fellow for Harrison College House. Specifically, I researched the efficacy of the Two-Step Verification Protocol employed at Penn and elsewhere on the basis of a cyberlaw and cybersecurity prospective. I have also analyzed various other cybersecurity protocols to determine which ones are most efficient given the tradeoffs of safety and convenience.

Currently, I am pursuing my honors thesis in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Department with Dr. Weiwei Tasch on the Digital Open Source Phenomenon. The focus of my research is on what drives people to contribute to open source software and hardware projects despite knowing they will receive neither attribution nor monetary compensation. By leveraging the principles of behavioral economics, I hope to ascertain the mechanism behind this contribution in order to encourage future utilization of this unique digital phenomenon, a phenomenon that has led to the development of many digital applications we use today.

Research has opened my eyes to a different side of academia and I am grateful to be able to contribute to making the digital world both a safer and more understood place while also studying what I am passionate about. If you have any questions on humanities, behavioral economics, moral psychology, policy, or tech-based research at the University of Pennsylvania, please feel free to reach out to me via email!

  • University Scholar C'22
  • Honors Thesis Research on the Digital Open Source Phenomenon (2020-Present)
  • Recipient of Best Philosophy, Politics and Economics Research Paper in an Academic Journal Award (2021)
  • Penn Institute for Urban Research Student Fellow on Smart Cities (2020-Present)
  • Research Assistant for Dr. Weiwei Tasch on Norm Building in the Arctic (2020-2021)
  • College House Research Fellowship, Harrison College House (2019-2020)
Josh Steinberg
COL 2022
Academic Major: Psychology

My research interests broadly center around psychopathology treatments. I am passionate about mental health and am intrigued by opportunities to investigate the efficacy of treatments, especially those that are scaleable and can be made available for under-resourced populations. I am especially interested in internalizing disorders (e.g., mood and anxiety disorders) but I have experience with researching a wide array of disorders. I became involved in research during my second semester of freshman year and have enjoyed it so much that I have continued to seek out additional opportunities and have diversified my range of experiences. Since that experience during my freshman year, I have worked as a research assistant at several labs at UPenn and at other universities and would love to discuss research opportunities with any interested undergraduates. Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I'd be happy to help in whatever way I can.

Research Assistant Positions

  • Penn Center for the Prevention of Suicide, Perelman School of Medicine (PI: Dr. Greg Brown); conducting independent study during 2021-22 school year under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Green
  • Boundaries of Anxiety and Depression Laboratory, UPenn (PI: Dr. Ayelet Ruscio)
  • Emotion, Development, Environment, and Neurogenetics Laboratory (EDEN), UPenn (PI: Dr. Rebecca Waller)
  • The DeRubeis Lab, UPenn (PI: Dr. Robert DeRubeis)
  • The Nock Lab, Harvard University (PI: Dr. Matthew Nock)
  • The McNally Lab, Harvard University (PI: Dr. Richard McNally)
  • McLean OCD Institute for Children and Adolescents (OCDI Jr.), McLean Hosptial, Belmont, MA (PI: Dr. Lisa Coyne)
Lilianne Sutton
COL 2023
Academic Major: Biochemistry Biophysics

When I was 14 years old, I couldn't touch my toes, and I wanted to know why. That simple question led to a rabbit hole of googling, reading, and harassing my high school anatomy teacher; to make a very long story short, four years later I came to Penn knowing that I wanted to investigate muscles and muscle physiology in a formal setting. I had no idea what research looked like but am lucky to have found my way to working in the Ostap Lab, studying the properties of the proteins that power muscle contraction. Research is rewarding, and powerful, and exciting, and inspiring; it is everything, except for easy.  Getting involved in research, however, is, and I am so happy to answer any questions you may have about my research, my experience as a FGLI student in research, or how you can get involved in research at Penn (and change your life for the better!)

FGLI, Penn Band Color Guard

I am a Vagelos Molecular Life Sciences Scholar

Deepti Tantry
COL 2022
Academic Major: Neuroscience

Before coming to Penn, I was lucky enough to have some research experiences and know that research was something that I wanted to continue at Penn. As an aspiring physician, I wanted to shift my focus from wet lab research, which I had thoroughly enjoyed, to clinical research which is an area that I had not had an opportunity to explore before Penn. I began working at the Adult Congenital Heart Center with CHOP and Penn Med, where I was able to get a fully immersive clinical research experience. I learned about an entirely new way of conducting research that I was not even aware of before this experience. Currently, I am working at the Computational Memory Lab, taking the knowledge that I have learned in my neuroscience courses and applying them directly to the research that I am doing. I am able to work directly with human participants, learn how to do complex data analysis and am even completing my honors thesis!

If you have any questions about how to get involved with various types of research, navigating the many helpful resources at Penn, or anything about life or Penn in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to chat and get to know you!

  • Student Lab Researcher/Greenfield Fellow: Dr. Michael Kahana, Computational Memory Lab (July 2020 – Present)
  • Student Researcher: Dr. Yuli Kim, Adult Congenital Heart Center (October 2019 – August 2020)
  • Student Lab Researcher: Structural Biology of Gene Regulation (January 2019 – June 2019)
  • NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Fellow (2019)
Tiffany Tieu
COL 2022
Academic Major: Psychology

When I first got to Penn, I knew that I wanted to do research but had many questions on how to start. Since my freshman year, I have joined various research labs on campus and received funding to conduct my own independent projects. My research interests are the mental health of minority populations, along with cultural stigmas and barriers to mental health care. Currently, I am conducting my senior honors thesis with Dr. Melissa Hunt on the anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the well-being of Penn students. I also serve as a peer manager, peer advisor, and psychology MAP advisor for the College of Arts & Sciences.

I am happy to help with navigating research at Penn and getting involved in the field of psychology. I can assist with finding and applying to research positions, emailing potential mentors, and preparing for interviews. I can also give advice on writing research proposals, applying to grants and fellowships for independent research, and presenting at professional conferences. I always enjoy hearing from students and helping with any step of the research process. Please feel free to reach out about anything at all!

Research Positions & Awards:

  • Honors Thesis Student at Hunt Lab, Department of Psychology, Fall 2020- Present
  • Research Assistant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Summer 2021- Present
  • Research Assistant at DeRubeis Lab, Department of Psychology, Fall 2020- Present
  • Student Researcher at Penn Center for Mental Health, Perelman School of Medicine, Summer 2019- Spring 2021
  • Research Fellow for Asian American Studies (ASAM) Fellows Program, Summer 2020- Spring 2021
  • Research Assistant at Positive Psychology Center, Summer 2019- Fall 2019
  • The John P. Sabini Undergraduate Award for the Study of Emotion, Character & Responsibility, Department of Psychology, Spring 2021
  • College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, Fall 2020
  • Hassenfeld Foundation Social Impact Research Grant, Spring 2019
  • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM) Recipient
  • Presenter at Fall 2019, Spring 2021 & Fall 2021 CURF Research Expos
Kosta Tsingas
COL 2022
Academic Major: Biological Mathematics

Penn has provided me continuous support in pursuing my interdisciplinary research interests, which exist at the interface of mathematics, biology, statistics, and informatics. For instance, in Penn’s Department of Cancer Biology, I am currently investigating the genomic profile of mechanisms that maintain genomic integrity during DNA replication in mice and humans through statistics and machine learning. This project was derived from my Summer 2020 PURM experience, where I focused on the analysis of repetitive DNA sequences using computational genomics in Brown Lab. This summer, I participated in the VERSEIM-REU at Tufts University, where I developed numerical algorithms to analyze Radon transforms on manifolds in the microlocal context of limited sonar/photo-acoustic data tomography; I’m continuing my work in the Quinto Research Group currently. I have also previously conducted research in Risbud Lab at Thomas Jefferson University, where I investigated the pathogenesis of intervertebral disc degeneration using transcriptomics analyses. Lastly, I hope to apply to PhD programs this fall for research in related fields.

These experiences would not have been possible without the resources I received at Penn; Penn has allowed me to actualize my interdisciplinary path through scientific research. For those who wish to learn how to get started in research and how to connect and combine multiple research interests (or those who just want to say hi), I welcome you to reach out!

  • Research Assistant, Quinto Group, Department of Mathematics, Tufts (2021-Present)
    • Visiting and Early Scholars’ Experiences in Math REU Program (Summer 2021)
    • UConn Math REU Conference (Summer 2021)
    • Joint Math Meetings Conference (Winter 2022) (Tentative)
  • Research Assistant, Brown Lab, Department of Cancer Biology, UPenn (2020-Present)
    • Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (Summer 2020)
    • CURF Fall Research Expo (Fall 2020)
  • Research Assistant, Risbud Lab, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, TJU (2019-2020)

Affinity Groups: FGLI

Ryan Turlip
COL 2024
Academic Major: Neuroscience

Coming to Penn, I knew that I wanted to conduct research but had no idea where to get started and had no previous experience. However, by utilizing the numerous resources and opportunities that CURF has to offer, I was able to be immersed into the world of clinical research.

Currently, I work as a research assistant to Dr. Jon Yoon in the Department of Neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital aiding in clinical projects. As a pre-med student, working on clinical projects has been an invaluable learning experience by getting early exposure to human anatomy, surgical workflow, and common clinical practice. Our projects mainly focus on surgical patient outcomes pre/intra/post operatively which are used to compare novel approaches to more traditional techniques.

If you have any questions about research at Penn, please reach out!

  • Research position: Clinical Research Assistant to Dr. Jon Yoon, Pennsylvania Hospital Department of Neurosurgery
Rawan Wadi
COL 2024
Academic Major: Biochemistry

Hi, I’m Rawan! I started my research endeavors here at Penn with PURM. My interests include better understanding the role of muscle stem cell morphology and function. With that, my research has involved analyzing the regulation of muscle stem cells during exercise. In doing so, I have been able to understand how and why the morphology of muscle stem cells changes under different conditions. I am glad to say that I have very much enjoyed my research experience thus far and am continuing my work in the lab this year. If you have any questions about my research, PURM, or need advice on how to jumpstart your own research experience, I am always more than happy to help!


Feiyi Wang
COL 2022
Academic Major: Psychology

I am always fascinated by people. How do children grow and learn? How does the brain work? How do we make decisions? To explore my questions, I fell in love with the study of psychology. Transferring to Penn as a sophomore, I am grateful that Penn has provided me with outstanding research opportunities and faculty support. I have worked on eye-tracking and fMRI projects exploring neural basis of memory biases and numerical cognition, a memory modelling project on counterfactual thinking, and a project investigating how to debias overconfidence. At this challenging time, CURF is still offering lots of research opportunities and it’s never too late to start doing research. I am here to help.

  • Honors Program in Psychology (2021-2022)
  • CURF Velay Fellows Program (Summer 2021)
  • Presentation at COGSCI, MathPysch, SPUDM, EGPROC (Summer 2021)
  • Presentation at CURF Fall Research Expo 2020-2021
  • PSYC 399 Independent Study student, Computational Behavioral Science Lab (2019-2020)
  • MindCORE Research Fellowship Program (Summer 2020)     
  • Research Assistant, Computational Behavioral Science Lab (Spring 2020)
  • PSYC 399 Independent Study on an fMRI project, the Developing Minds Lab (2019-2020)
Jasmine Wu
COL 2022
Academic Major: Neuroscience

In my experience, research at Penn is a limitless and immensely rewarding opportunity. Learning about the research process and getting to take part in a lab has truly opened doors for me that I never knew even existed. Through my Penn career, I’ve been thankful to be part of two research jobs: one in neuroscience at CHOP and the other in the Surgical ICUs in the Penn Health System.

As a neuroscience major, I have gained so much through my research lab Penn due to the encouraging support of my mentors. Specifically, I’ve had experience studying mild Traumatic Brain Injury with the goal of learning about restoring normal function to inhibitory neurons in the hippocampus.

I have also been fortunate enough to do research at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. With the wonderful help of my PI, an anesthesiologist at Penn, I have done clinical research on Handoffs and Transitions in Critical Care. For this research, my lab environment has been the Surgical and Trauma Surgical ICU, where I study the implementation of a standardized handoff protocol from the Operating Room to the Intensive Care Unit.

Finding the right lab can be understandably daunting, so please do not hesitate to reach out. I am incredibly grateful for the research opportunities at Penn, and I would love to talk about anything research-related!

  •       PURM Recipient Summer 2019
  •       College Alumni Society Research Grant Fall 2019
  •       College House Research Fellow 2020
  •       Grant for Faculty Mentoring Undergraduate Research 2020
Christine Wu
COL 2022
Academic Major: Molecular and Cell Biology

Research interests:

Initially coming into Penn as a pre-medical student, my career trajectory transformed when I entered Dr. Janis Burkhardt’s Lab freshman year. The Burkhardt Lab broadly focuses on how actin cytoskeleton dynamics shape T cell migration. My project specifically investigates the intracellular signaling dynamics that regulate T cell exit from the secondary lymph nodes into circulation. Throughout my time in the Burkhardt Lab, I have learned how to write research grants, plan and perform in-vivo experiments, and present my own research, to name a few. After graduation, I intend to further my research career in immunology.

If you have any questions about how to identify your research interests, reach out to potential PIs, or anything regarding research or getting acclimated to Penn, please reach out! I would also love to chat about any other topics of interest outside of science, such as AAPI-related issues, language learning, music, or photography. :)

Research positions:

  • Undergraduate Researcher at the Burkhardt Lab (2018-present)
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (May 2019-August 2019)
  • American Heart Association Undergraduate Student Summer Fellowship (2019)
  • College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant (Fall 2019)

Affinity groups: AAPI, work-study

Kathryn Xu
COL 2023
Academic Major: English Physics

Coming to Penn, I knew I wanted to do research but had no idea where to start. My first research experience was the summer after my freshman year with PURM, where I had the opportunity to participate in soft matter physics research, under the guidance of Professor Douglas J. Durian. I performed hard particle Monte Carlo simulations using Python and the Walnut high-performance computing cluster.

Over the last year, I switched to astrophysics research, specifically in dark energy, working with Professor Masao Sako on supernovae. Some of my work included computing light curves of type Ia supernovae, also working with Python. This past summer, I had the opportunity to continue my research with Fermilab, where I worked with Javier Sánchez on the DECam Local Volume Exploration Survey (DELVE) in order to gain constraints on dark energy density, using galaxy surveys. Outside of physics, I'm also an English major and a writer for DP Sports and 34th Street. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about PURM, starting research, using work-study for research, switching research fields, applying to REUs/external research opportunities, or even to talk about anything related to English!

  • Research assistant to Professor Douglas Durian (Soft matter physics; PURM, Frances Velay Fellowship; Summer 2020)
  • Research assistant to Professor Masao Sako (Astrophysics; Work-Study; Fall 2020–)
  • Researcher at Fermilab with Javier Sánchez (Astrophysics; Fermilab SIST; Summer 2021)
Ren Yagawara
COL '24
Academic Major: Undecided

When I first came to Penn, the only thing I knew about research was that I wanted to do it.  I had absolutely no prior research experience, and had no idea where or how to get started.  Although I did not participate in PURM, I was fortunate enough to land a research position under Dr. Maillard at Penn Medicine, which has been absolutely fantastic as I am studying on the pre-med track.  In short, I am involved with research of the immunology of bone marrow transplants as a treatment for blood cancers, which uses mouse models of transplantation.  It was my first time doing research or even being in a lab, and it was truly an unforgettable experience.  In fact, simply finding a research position was a whole journey in and of itself, and I would love to talk more about any aspect of my research experience!  Please feel free to reach out about how to get started with research at Penn, simply deciding whether or not research is something that you would want to try, or just about anything!

Research experience:

  • Maillard Lab, Department of Hematology-Oncology, May 2021 - Present


Affinity groups: Benjamin Franklin Scholars, Mayor's Scholars

Extracurricular activities: Void Ultimate Frisbee, the Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn Compose, Brain Exercise Initiative

Ask me about: getting started with research, my research experience, Integrated Studies Program, pre-med/pre-med with a humanities major, community service at Penn, feel free to reach out about anything!

Samuel Young
COL 2023
Academic Major: Physics

As someone who came to Penn not really knowing what research was or how undergraduates could become involved, getting into research seemed completely out of reach for someone with zero experience like myself. Thanks to CURF, however, I learned of the great faculty-student dynamic that can be cultivated.

I’m particularly interested in particle cosmology, although I have broader interests in astrophysics and data science. I started in astrophysics research during the summer after my sophomore year, interning at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Lab and Stanford University as part of the DOE's SULI program. There, I worked on strengthening correlations with the most extreme astrophysical events in the universe, gamma-ray bursts. I started my research journey in particle physics at the advent of the pandemic (summer after my first year) with the Penn Neutrinos group under Dr. Josh Klein, working on the simulation and analysis of photon sorting for large-scale neutrino detectors. I'm extremely fortunate to have two second-author papers in preparation for publication, and have given contributed talks at a couple of conferences in the US and Europe.

Outside of physics, I’m also a tour guide with the Kite & Key society and engage with various interest clubs. Feel free to reach out with questions about getting involved with research for the first time, utilizing work-study, the sub-matriculation process, and everything in between!

Research positions held:

  • Research Assistant to Dr. Josh Klein, High Energy Physics Experimental Group, Department of Physics and Astronomy (2020-Present)
  • Research Intern to Dr. Maria Dainotti, SLAC National Laboratory / KIPAC, Stanford University (May 2021-Aug. 2021


  • Roy and Diana Vagelos Challenge Award (2021-2022)
  • NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Undergraduate Scholarship (2021)

Affinity Groups:

  • FGLI
  • Work-study
Lilian Zhang
COL 2022
Academic Major: Neuroscience Hispanic Studies

I had never learned about the numerous facets and fields research could encompass until engaging with CURF.

During the summer before my senior year in high school, I worked at a wet lab studying neural regeneration but found it didn't really fit with my abilities at the time. Therefore, after my arrival at Penn, I decided to take part in more humanities-geared research. Working at the Dahan Lab has been a fantastic experience because it allowed me to study the two things I found most fascinating, Psychology and Linguistics. Being a BBB and Hispanic Studies double major, I’ve always been curious about language acquisition, communication efficiency, and the constituents of making someone an “eloquent communicator.” The Dahan Lab investigates questions such as “what demographic or personality factors influence the efficiency at establishing common ground.”  Research in the Dahan lab not only satiated my curiosity towards the two disciplines in which  I’ve chosen to major, but also allowed me to conduct empirical research: from designing a study, to recruiting participants, to ultimately analyzing data and producing tangible results.

However, over time and through my coursework at Penn, I grew more fascinated with neuroscience research and acquired adequate skill sets to work at a more technical lab, which encouraged me to once again try work at a wet lab, this time with a much richer repertoire of knowledge and abilities. As a result, I became a research assistant at the Davidson Lab at CHOP, where I currently work with mice models on developing more effective and specific AAV viral capsids through capsid modification, intravenous injections, and quantification of viral biodistribution.

If you have questions regarding finding research opportunities that span multiple disciplines, or general questions about getting started with research at Penn, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions!

  • Dr. Beverly Davidson Lab, CHOP (Fall 2019-Present)
  • Penn Undergraduate Research and Mentorship Program (PURM) (Summer 2019)
  • Dr. Delphine Dahan Lab, Psychology Department, University of Pennsylvania (Spring 2019- October 2019)
  • Dr. Yuanquan Song, Pathology Department, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Summer 2017)
Coco Zhao
COL 2022
Academic Major: Cognitive Science Computer Science

Over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to get involved in research projects in really different disciplines and using different methods. I have been working with Dr. Rao in the Department of Neurology on research projects that aimed to better understand the neural mechanism underlying sleep deprivation using fMRI and EEG. I also did an independent project that used cognitive approaches to better understand how people make risky decisions. Since my sophomore year, I have been involved in a real-time fMRI project with Dr. Sheline at CNDS and Dr. Norman at Princeton, which uses fMRI and machine learning to learn the effectiveness of real-time fMRI feedback in reducing depression. During the COVID, I worked with engineers at Princeton remotely to redesign the architecture of real-time fMRI software and launched a new cloud-Based software framework that simplifies and standardizes Real-time fMRI.

If you are an undergraduate who is still unsure about your research interests, we can talk about research in Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, and Computer Science, and how they interact with each other. Please don't hesitate to contact me about starting a new study, conducting research as an international student, or any other research-related questions you may have!

  • Research Assistant and Independent Study, CNDS, Penn Medicine, September 2019 - Present
  • Research Assistant, Department of Neurology, Penn Medicine, June 2016 - Present
  • Poster presentation, Society for Neuroeconomics 2018 Annual Meeting
  • Poster presentation, 7th Annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting
  • 4 Co-authored paper published in NeuroImage, Comprehensive psychiatry, etc.

Affinity group: International student

Shujing Zhou
COL 2023
Academic Major: Neuroscience Computer Science

Coming into Penn with some short-term research experience in high school and a profound interest in neuroscience, I was enthusiastic about getting involved with some in-depth, long-term research projects. Through CURF, I matched with John Dani’s lab at the beginning of my freshman year. I was trained for wet lab skills systematically as my mentor Mani would let me observe and practice every step of the experimental process. Because of COVID, we had to suspend our in-person research for a year, but my mentor and I decided to use the unfortunate timing as an opportunity to build my data analytics skills. During that time, I was able to master MATLAB with no prior experience and conduct my first data analysis project for the lab. Over the summer of 2021, I was working full-time at the lab with lots of hands-on experience. The research experience gave me both skills and confidence as a researcher and inspired me to also pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience and a career in neuropsychopharmacology. With the wonderful research and mentoring experience I’ve had in Dr. Dani’s lab, I want to help guide other undergraduates who want to get involved in research. I would love to talk about neuroscience and psychology in general and how interesting the neuropsychopharmacology field is. I would also love to help answer any questions about starting doing research, finding research, conducting research as an international student, or anything regarding research experience in general. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions!