Funding available for undergraduate and faculty research collaboration through the Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Fund!

Baldacci Fund

Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Fund

Are you planning an internship, research experience or study abroad trip for 2018? Or do you have an interest in attending a professional conference or have an idea for a social entrepreneurship project?

The Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Fund grants academically promising students of diverse areas of study and backgrounds with financial support to pursue internships, conferences, research, domestic or study abroad, and/or social entrepreneurship opportunities. Awards between $1,000-$5,000 will support the above experiential learning activities.

Apply here to be a Baldacci Scholar

Funds may be requested for, but are not limited to:

  • Summer weekly stipend
  • Academic year hourly financial support
  • Travel to/from experiential learning site in the US or abroad
  • Additional costs associated with study abroad including required tuition
  • Expenses associated with attendance and presentation at professional conferences
  • Other supplies/expenses associated with experiential learning experience

Accepting applications through March 2, 2018

Eligibility: Applicants must be full time undergraduate rising juniors or seniors, in good academic standing, and be primary majors in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

Applications outlining experiences with total costs above $5,000 will be considered but only awarded at a maximum of $5,000 per request. 

Application requirements include:

  • Unofficial transcript
  • A resume/CV
  • Statement describing your proposed experiential learning experience
  • Budget request including explanation of need for financial assistance
  • A letter of reference from a CHS faculty member or advisor
  • Contact information for experiential learning opportunity sponsor/mentor/supervisor

The College is the intellectual heart of VCU. Our educational and research environment addresses an array of technological, health-related, and societal problems, as well as providing profound insights and reflections of what it means to be human and humane. Experiential learning is an integral part of the education of our students and a key part of our mission. This exciting opportunity made possible by David and Michelle Baldacci provides funding to support all forms of experiential learning, allowing students to learn through reflection and doing, while also promoting an entrepreneurial spirit to create the tools and means to bring positive sustainable results to our community and society.

Questions? Contact Caitlin Hanbury, Stewardship Manager, at

Open undergraduate biochemistry research positions with the Deb Labs

The Deb Labs are currently seeking undergraduate assistants to assist with their research endeavors.  There are opportunities for independent study, work-study research positions, and potentially part-time employment for Fall semester and beyond.

Interested students should email a resume with work, lab experience and current GPA to post-doctoral fellow, Catherine Vaughan at (  An attached, current class schedule would also be helpful.

A brief summary of research areas is included below.  More information is available at the Deb Labs link above.

The major research interest of our laboratory is to understand the molecular biology of cellular proliferation and its control and how that get altered in cancer. In this regard we are currently focusing on understanding the molecular biology of the human tumor suppressor p53 and how mutations in p53 lead to cancer. The following are short descriptions of a current funded grant and a planned program project grant that our laboratory will lead.

  1. Mutation in the p53 tumor suppressor gene is a common event in human cancer and in the majority of human carcinomas containing p53 mutations the mutant protein is over-expressed suggesting the existence of a selection pressure to maintain expression. This also suggests an active role for mutant p53 in oncogenesis and follows the gain-of-function (GOF) hypothesis, which predicts that mutations in the p53 gene not only destroy the tumor suppressor function of the wild-type (WT) protein, but also leads to the gain of oncogenic functions.The long-term goal of our laboratory is to understand how p53 mutations may lead to cancer development.The short-term objective is to test the followinghypothesis:

          Expression of p53 mutants in human cells results in deregulation of pathways controlled by the transcription factor NF-kB2 This may be critically important for chemosensitivity and other aspects of tumor progression . 

  2. We are also leading an investigation on Lung Cancer research being conducted by several independent investigators in the university. This is summarized below.Lung cancer is currently responsible for the largest percentage of cancer-related deaths in the USA. Disruption of the p53 pathway occurs in up to 80% of lung cancers making it imperative to elucidate how the pathway is compromised in this disease. Mutation of the p53 gene is observed in 30-50% lung tumors, while the human oncoprotein MDM2, which inactivates and degrades p53, is over-expressed in 25 to 30% of the tumors with or without wild-type (WT) p53. Our studies show that while MDM2 over-expression may contribute to lung oncogenesis by inactivating WT p53, it may also cooperate with the gain of function p53 mutants independent of its WT p53 inactivating function. Similarly, the gain of function p53 mutants can induce the expression of CXC chemokines which have been implicated in angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis in lung cancers. Recently we have shown that Tim50, a mitochondrial protein implicated in apoptosis, is up-regulated by mutant p53. Since human oncoprotein MDM2 can modulate transcriptional activation of tumor-derived p53 mutants, mutant p53-mediated chemokine or Tim50 activation can be modulated by MDM2 over-expression.

Undergraduate Research Positions with the Cognition and Learning Lab

Dr. Jason Chow in the VCU School of Education is currently seeking undergraduates to serve as research assistants in the Cognition and Learning Lab.

Successful applicants would ideally want to pursue careers that involve research or value research experiences (e.g., grad school applicants).  The mentor welcomes underclassmen and students with no previous experience, with the consideration that research assistants are able to stay on and be a part of the team for additional semesters.

Students would be assisting in research activities in the Cognition and Learning Lab in the VCU School of Education, and working on projects that focus on language, math, education, teaching, and related areas.  Time commitment would be ~9 hours per week, but schedules are flexible.

Specific activities include (depending on transportation, etc): delivering assessments, entering and coding data, screening and coding research articles, transcription, participating in research meetings.

If you are interested in this position, email Dr. Jason Chow at  Be sure to include your major, current academic year (i.e. fresh, soph, etc.), future plans after graduation, why you are interested in Dr. Chow’s research, and anything else that is awesome about you!

2018 Summer Fellowships for Undergraduate Research at VCU! Call for Proposals

It is time again to announce our funded fellowship opportunities for undergraduates interested in conducting research during the summer of 2018!  In addition to the UROP Fellowship we are again pleased to offer fellowships funded by the Center for Clinical and Translational Research, the Global Education Office, and the Division for Inclusive Excellence!  As always, many thanks to these units for their support!

Below you will find a brief description for each fellowship opportunity with a link to the full description.  Check out profiles of some of our previous Summer Research Fellows HERE. Deadline for proposals is March 10, 2018.  Feel free to direct any questions to Herb Hill at


Global Education Undergraduate Research Fellowships

The Global Education Office will fund three unique undergraduate fellowship awards for research projects, mentored by VCU faculty. Research proposals should show evidence of significant engagement with a culture originating from outside of the US that is different from the applicant’s native culture. Successful proposals should exhibit how the project will increase the student researcher’s knowledge, skills and experience to demonstrate successfully functioning across a variety of borders, such as national, linguistic, cultural, religious, and/or others. Each fellowship award includes $1500 in funding for the student and $500 for the faculty mentor.  For details and to apply visit:


Undergraduate Fellowships for Clinical and Translational Research

The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research will fund two undergraduate research fellowship awards for a clinical translational research project focused on human health and mentored by a VCU faculty member. A clinical translational research project is one that aims to translate scientific discoveries into improved human health and wellness. Successful proposals must discuss how the project will increase the student researcher’s knowledge, skills and experience while simultaneously attempting to advance human health through clinical research. Each fellowship award includes $1500 in funding for the student and $500 for the faculty mentor.  For details and to apply visit:

Undergraduate Research Fellowship for Inclusive Excellence

The VCU Division for Inclusive Excellence will fund undergraduate research fellowship awards for a faculty-mentored research project focused on “diversity” as it relates to ideas, cultures, backgrounds and experiences. Successful proposals must discuss how the project will increase the student researcher’s knowledge, skills and experience related to the social, economic, political and historical significance of particular differences. This project may investigate diversity through the lens of gender, race/ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, disabilities and/or international issues. Each fellowship award includes $1500 in funding for the student and $500 for the faculty mentor.  For details and to apply :


VCU Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Summer Fellowships

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) will fund a limited number of undergraduate student fellowship awards for projects mentored by VCU faculty. Successful student applicants will receive a cash stipend of $1,500 and $500 for the faculty mentor.  Applicants must submit an online application no later than March 10th, 2018 for review.  For details and to apply visit:

Become a VCU Work Study Research Assistant!

into HireVCURams to search for open positions, you can do a search for “Work Study Research Assistants”.  These positions give you the opportunity to conduct research in a wide variety of disciplines and projects under the guidance of faculty mentors on campus (and get paid for it!!).  There are openings in the Sciences, Biomedical, Engineering, Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities and more.

You do not need to have previous research experience to apply for these positions.  These are research exposure opportunities, so your faculty mentor will provide you with the appropriate training to prepare you to work on your project.  You also do not need to be a major in the discipline in which you would like to do research.  You just need to be interested in the project and be available during the week to contribute.  Research is great experience to prepare you for application to graduate school or for a career in your chosen field.  In fact, this experience makes you a very competitive applicant for a wide variety of future opportunities!  Check out some VCU students talking about their research experiences HERE.

If you have questions or concerns about this opportunity, please email the VCU Office of Undergraduate Research Opportunities at

VCU researchers receive $4.2M NIH grant to study treatment for chemical attacks

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With the backing of a five-year award of approximately $4.2 million in total costs from the National Institutes of Health, Robert DeLorenzo and a team of Virginia Commonwealth University researchers are studying and developing ways to treat and prevent human fatalities and morbidity that could result from chemical attacks on U.S. soil.

Robert DeLorenzo, M.D., Ph.D.

DeLorenzo, M.D., Ph.D., the George Bliley Professor of Neurology in the VCU School of Medicine, is the principal investigator on the team that received the grant from the NIH Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats program. CounterACT supports basic and translational research aimed at identifying medical countermeasures against chemical threats.

DeLorenzo said public safety is the key goal behind the research. He is working with Robert Blair, Ph.D., and Laxmikant Deshpande, Ph.D., assistant professors in the VCU School of Medicine Department of Neurology, as well as Rakesh Kukreja, Ph.D., the Eric Lipman Professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, and Matthew Halquist, Ph.D., assistant professor and laboratory director in the Department of Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy.

“We’re trying to create [counteract] agents that the government can stockpile in case this type of attack happens here,” DeLorenzo said.

Foaming at the mouth, permanent neurological damage and death are some of the results of exposure to a chemical attack or nerve gas. Another result is a severe form of seizure called status epilepticus. This type of seizure can last more than 30 minutes or may manifest as separate seizures without a full recovery of consciousness in between. DeLorenzo has studied status epilepticus and epilepsy, with continuous NIH support, at VCU since 1988. Thus far, his study, which includes how to successfully treat sufferers, has focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in the seizures and the brain damage it causes.

“The CounterACT project is the continuation of us using that information,” he said. “When you get [mass] nerve agent exposure, a large number of people go into these types of seizures. It’s obvious now that terrorists can get their hands on this [weapon], and that means it is possible that they can put it in a New York City subway or other crowded areas.”

VCU was one of a select few institutions awarded NIH CounterACT grants. The initial award amount was approximately $831,178 total costs. Researchers are currently working out of the Neuroscience Research Center inside the Herman A. Kontos Medical Science Building. Success would be to develop effective counteract agents that could decrease death and improve the quality of life of survivors of a chemical attack, DeLorenzo said.

We’re trying to make it so that more people survive, and the survivors have fewer complications.

“We’re developing treatments that you could give to a patient, treatments you could administer,” he said. “We’re trying to make it so that more people survive, and the survivors have fewer complications such as cognitive impairment, behavioral abnormalities and the development of epilepsy. These treatments are being designed to decrease and prevent these outcomes.”

DeLorenzo’s neuroscience research laboratory has received continuous NIH funding since 1985. From 2006-2015, DeLorenzo received funding to study organophosphates, such as parathion organophosphate pesticides, which have been identified as one of the highest priority chemical threats for civilians. Acute parathion exposure can cause death, severe seizures, brain injury, cognitive deficits and epilepsy.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 225 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Seventy-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The VCU Health brand represents the health sciences schools of VCU, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and