Each year, the program offers a small number of stipends to allow some URAP apprentices to continue work on their mentors' research projects over the summer. To be eligible, students must have been working with the same mentor for at least two semesters. Mentors nominate their students. These stipends are generously supported by a number of private donors.

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The Eye's Heavy Lifters

Summer 2017

Simon Zhen : Molecular & Cell Biology

Mentor: Xiaohua Gong, Optometry

The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the eye refers to a monolayer of cells that are critical for maintaining the health of the photo-receptor cells located in the back of the eye. This summer, my work is focused on performing primary culture of RPE cells. These cells will then be subjected to further studies, including staining (to identify the contents of the cells), etc. 

Message to Sponsor:

I've always been interested in biology, but never understood what exactly happened in a biology laboratory. All I heard were the stereotypical stories of undergraduates moving fluids from one flask to another before publishing some report. It's been incredible being exposed to the field in such a hands-on fashion and I wouldn't have been able to do that without the support of Dr. Xiao-hua Gong and Dr. Chun-hong Xia, as well as the support of URAP.