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Research fellows say thanks for the best summer

Image: From left: SURF fellows Rotem Alon ’22 and David Mathews ’22.
From left: SURF fellows Rotem Alon ’22 and David Mathews ’22. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Thanks to Binghamton Fund donors, Binghamton University was able to support two students, instead of just one, in the highly competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at State University of New York Upstate Medical University.

Only about a dozen students were selected from the 100-plus who applied from various universities. Binghamton Fund donors made it possible for Binghamton students Rotem Alon ’22 and David Mathews ’22 to experience the opportunity this past summer.

As SURF fellows, they sharpened their research skills in a biomedical science lab, working alongside top-class scientists. In addition, they each received a stipend, shared their findings in a research paper and may even see their work published.

Alon researched how a protein that is produced by dengue virus causes leakage, or permeability, in endothelial cells (cells that line blood vessels, arteries and veins) by activating a signal pathway within the cells. This leakage of endothelial cells leads to blood loss.

“I’m enjoying all of the research seminars and presentations that we get to go to,” Alon said. “I’m really surprised at how much independence I’ve been given, especially in regard to my research project and coming up with experiments I want to conduct.”

Alon said she can’t wait to explore more aspects of immunology, microbiology and genetics.

“This program will help me find exactly what I want to focus on in my future research, since I want to continue to research in graduate school and beyond,” she said. “The SURF Program will also allow me to build relationships with SUNY Upstate Medical faculty and other students who are interested in the same research areas as I am.”

Mathews examined relapse in mice and rats to gain clues about how to best address relapse in humans. As part of the program, he also spent time at the Golisano Center for Special Needs, taking data as behavioral treatments took place for children with developmental disabilities.

Mathews aspires to become a physician-scientist who studies the causes underlying psychiatric illness, helps patients with these illnesses, and shares his findings to improve lives and so “the stigma surrounding mental illness can be made a thing of the past.”

“We’ve had some great grad school admissions workshops, had the opportunity to participate in a journal club, and heard presentations from researchers from many different departments across the university,” he said.

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Big-hearted Binghamton Fund donors gave a record-breaking $2 million+ this past fiscal year to help students thrive and stay on track for graduation.
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