Join the VCU Bug Lab as a Research Intern this Summer!


 “VCU Bug Lab” (Insect Behavior & Ecology Laboratory), Department of Biology

Responsibilities: Variable, based on student interest and ability, and time of year. All students will participate in insect rearing, including diet preparation and handling caterpillars. Some students will assist graduate students by performing dissections, entering data, and collecting caterpillars in the field.

In other words, you will be physically handling caterpillars!

Requirements: 1) A minimum grade of C” in BIOL 151, 152, and BIOZ 151, 152, and 2) A strong work ethic. Majors other than Biology are encouraged to apply.

Why you should consider this position: The “VCU Bug Lab” provides a warm and supportive environment for undergraduate students interested in exploring research and careers in Biology. Prior undergraduate research interns are now employed in Biology-related positions, enrolled or have completed graduate degrees in biology or teaching, and a few are enrolled or have completed degrees in professional health fields.

For more information: Please contact Dr. Karen Kester,  Interested students should provide a brief statement describing their interest in research.


Undergraduate Research Positions with the School of Pharmacy!



Applications are requested from students with computer programming experience for interesting and challenging research opportunities in the Laboratory of Pharmacometabolomics and Companion Diagnostics. We are a laboratory that utilizes large scale data acquisition strategies to understand the variability of human response to medication.

In this regard, we have urgent need for someone with experience in programming languages such as Java, C++ and/or python to help write software components to streamline the data analysis and data visualization processes. Additional training will be provided to the right candidate to complement their existing expertise. The candidate will have the opportunity to learn the concepts of personalized medicine and analytical strategies such as mass spectrometry and NMR in clinical and translational research settings and gain invaluable experience in applying computer programming techniques to streamline these processes.

Furthermore, during the course of this clinical and translational research training, the candidate will also get an opportunity to interact very closely with the physicians, surgeons and pharmacists of VCU. This position is ideal for someone who wishes to pursue careers in medicine and health IT.

Interested students should contact the project PI, Dr. Dayanjan Wijesinghe – Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Sciences at

Before you contact someone about a research opportunity you may want to put together the following information to provide to them:

  • Your year of study (Freshman, sophomore, etc.)
  • Your major
  • Your current GPA
  • A brief summary of your background, which indicates any research-related courses you have taken, and any research experience you have already had.
  • A statement that talks about your career goals, why you want to participate in research with this specific faculty member, and what you would bring to the experience.


Nominate your Faculty Mentor for an Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award!


Are you a VCU undergraduate student who is currently conducting research under an awesome faculty member at VCU?  Do you know a professor or faculty member who goes above and beyond to create research opportunities for undergraduate students?  If so, nominate them for a UROP Faculty Mentorship Award so we can acknowledge their contributions!

Go to: to submit a statement of no more than 500 words explaining why the chosen nominee deserves an outstanding mentorship award. Please use specific examples that detail your nominee’s contribution to undergraduate research at VCU.  The deadline for submissions is April 4th.

Consider the following criteria in your nomination:

• How has the nominee enhanced the skills related to undergraduate research in their discipline?

• How has the nominee expanded the knowledge base of student researchers?

• How has the nominee assisted undergraduates in their engagement with research?

• How has the nominee guided students in the acquisition of research presentation skills?

• What lasting impression has the nominee made on students’ future academic and professional plans?

Email Herb Hill at with any questions.

Call for Abstracts: VCU Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity!

Organized by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and part of VCU Student Research Weeks, the annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium is a wonderful opportunity for students to present their research endeavors to their academic peers, members of the VCU faculty, community members, and friends and family.  All undergrads from every discipline are encouraged to present and attend.  Presentations may be for completed research projects, completed papers, or research in progress.

Projects involving creative work such as prose or poetry, performances, and artwork will be considered for acceptance if they are part of a scholarly project undertaken by the student.  We are currently accepting poster abstracts up until the deadline of March 22nd, 2016.  All abstracts should be submitted to

After students are notified of their acceptance, we will accept electronic file submission of their posters.   Note: We hold poster workshops Jan. – Mar. and we are now able to print research posters free of cost to our students!

Abstracts should include: Name/Major of student, Name/Dept. of Faculty Mentor, Title of research Project, Brief description of research project.  All inquiries to

symp 2016

Two VCU students awarded Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowships

Featured photoSarah Izabel, left, and Lizette Carrasco, right, pictured in their labs at Sanger Hall.

Two Virginia Commonwealth University students will spend the summer immersed in research after earning prestigious undergraduate research fellowships.

Lizette Carrasco, a junior biology major, and Sarah Izabel, a sophomore psychology major and Honors College student, have been accepted to the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

VCU student researchers also earned EXROP fellowships in both 2014 and 2015.

This is the first time VCU students have received two slots in the program, which aims to support underrepresented groups in the next generation of scientists. The students will attend a conference with other researchers before spending 10 weeks this summer in a full-time, mentored research experience in the laboratory of a Howard Hughes investigator at research institutions.

“HHMI is synonymous with research excellence. To have VCU put besides those letters is a big deal,” said Sarah Golding, Ph.D., director of undergraduate research in the Department of Biology. “They get to see what that institution looks like, meet other students and work with first-class scientists.”

Sarah Izabel and her IMSD mentor, Jeffrey Dupree, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology in the School of Medicine.
Sarah Izabel and her IMSD mentor, Jeffrey Dupree, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology in the School of Medicine.

The students are no strangers to labs and research. At VCU, Carrasco and Izabel are taking part in the Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity, which matches underrepresented students with campus researchers.

Izabel studies how degeneration of neurons relates to diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, with Jeffrey Dupree, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology in the School of Medicine. During the summer, Izabel will work in a lab at the University of California, San Francisco, focused on another part of the neuron.

“I’ll still be studying the neuron, but instead of the axon I’m studying the dendrites,” Izabel said. “I’m excited to work with different systems, different approaches. As a nontraditional student it’s sometimes hard to fit in, but being able to spend time in the laboratory with not only like-minded people, but also older students, is a benefit of doing research.”

Lizette Carrasco in the lab of mentor Kimberly Jefferson, Ph.D.
Lizette Carrasco in the lab of mentor Kimberly Jefferson, Ph.D.

At VCU, Carrasco conducts research on a bacteria’s ties to vaginosis and preterm birth with Kimberly Jefferson, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine. This summer she will travel to conduct immunology research at Yale University.

Everybody thinks of an older person in a lab coat, pipetting away, but the faces of scientists are changing now.

“We share the similarity that we’re all underrepresented in the sciences, which is one of those things that brings us together. I find that very important to have that community of like-minded people,” Carrasco said of VCU’s IMSD program. “Everybody thinks of an older person in a lab coat, pipetting away, but the faces of scientists are changing now. Hopefully I can be reflective of the changing face of science, and scientists.”

The students were nominated by Allison A. Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor and assistant director of the Center for the Study of Biological Complexity. Johnson is able to nominate students for the EXROP competition as a member of HHMI’s Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science program.