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College students’ innovative research at The Hormel Institute

Students and faculty at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota worked together to find creative ways to offer important education and career building research experiences this summer. Despite the inability to meet in person or work onsite, several college students were able to have productive and exciting summers working with cancer researchers at The Hormel Institute.

Due to COVID-19, the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) internship program was cancelled for 2020, but two SURE interns graduating in 2020 and ineligible to reapply next summer were given the opportunity to work with a lab at The Hormel Institute. The Institute professors ensured they gained important experience and learned new techniques even though they couldn’t be on site.

Yang has hosted SURE interns in the past and was very willing to work with the SURE interns who would not be able to return next summer for an in-person experience.

Leah Anderton, a student at Cedarville University, and Samantha Maddock, a student at Fordham University, both worked remotely with Dr. Yang over the summer, working independently to complete projects under Dr. Yang’s supervision. With the work they accomplished, Leah and Samantha will both be listed as co-authors on research papers Dr. Yang is submitting, and both plan to continue working with Dr Yang into the fall semester.

Other students were able to gain experience via remote internships with Institute scientists this summer as wellDr. Jarrod French, head of the Nucleotide Metabolism & Drug Discovery lab at The Hormel Institute UMN, worked with colleagues from Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland to develop a project that allows undergraduate students to use their home computers to screen thousands of compounds to look for the most likely to interact with a specific protein target and block its activity. After the summer, Dr. French and his colleagues will be able to use the list the students generate to investigate further in the lab. This summer, there are seven students participating but Dr. French hopes they can expand in future years.

Dr. Ilana Chefetz, head of the Cancer Stem Cells & Necroptosis lab at The Hormel Institute, worked remotely with two students this summer who helped with bioinformatics work related to Dr. Chefetz’s ovarian cancer research.

Suad Mohamed, a student at Carleton University, also worked with Dr. Chefetz this summer and will have the opportunity to start lab work for this project in September with a new grant from the Marsha Rivkin Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

The Hormel Institute UMN has an education outreach program that supports and impacts students from elementary school through postdoctoral training.


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