Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program receives Genentech grant to support students from underrepresented minority groups and first-generation college attendees

the 2021 Genentech grant recipients are pictured.

The popular Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program offers fellowships to a select group of motivated undergraduate students who will benefit from the opportunity for hands-on biology-related research. This year, the program has been awarded a grant from the 2021 Genentech Foundation Summer Research Scholars Program to support 5 undergraduate students from underrepresented minority groups, or who are first generation college attendees, as they embark on a summer of laboratory research. 

The Genentech Foundation seeks “to ensure partner institutions have the proper means to provide critical enrichment opportunities to scholars and ensure they are participating in summer research,” and this grant will expand access to students who too often face high barriers to entry into science. This grant, along with support for the SURF program provided by The Amgen Foundation, The Simons Foundation, a group of six Columbia University colleges and institutes, as well as two personal donors, will help offer students the chance to experience the joys of discovering something completely new while learning to overcome the challenges inherent in scientific research. 

Students supported by this grant will join in research at cutting-edge laboratories across Columbia campuses, and take part in a SURF program designed to develop their science research communications skills, including poster presentation, oral presentations to peers, explaining their research to the public and scientific research article writing. As Amanda Amilcar (CC’22), put it, “The SURF program has provided me an incredible opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of scientific research and gain insights into the field that I never could have gotten in a traditional classroom setting. Participating in SURF has solidified my love of research, and through working in my lab at the Psychiatric Institute I am confident in pursuing a career path in neuroscientific behavioral research.”

Alice Heicklen, who oversees the SURF program, said that there is “no better 'bang for the buck' program to "get undergraduates excited about biology-related research” than funding an undergraduate in the SURF program. “You give a student 10 weeks of hands-on cutting edge research experience that can change their career path for the rest of their lives.” 

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