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Homepage 2017-08-08T19:38:29+00:00

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Toxicology (SURE Tox) program at the University of Illinois will provide high quality research experiences for under-represented minority junior and senior undergraduate students during the summer academic break – May 22 thru July 28. The program involves active participation by faculty members from several departments and colleges at the University of Illinois, all of whom have expertise in toxicology and experience training undergraduate students. The program also interacts with the PEER and the Environmental Toxicology Program.

The training program will accept a total of 7 junior and senior under-represented minority, undergraduate students per year who will spend 10 weeks over the summer in the program. The specific goals of the program are to: 1) match participants with faculty mentors who will direct the student to complete a hypothesis-driven project in the field of toxicology, 2) help each student learn laboratory techniques and research skills, 3) provide didactic training on animal use in research, the responsible conduct of research (e.g., research misconduct, mentor-trainee relationships, and data management), and use of the electronic library, 4) train students to prepare scientific posters and to present their work at scientific meetings, 5) provide networking opportunities for students to meet other students and faculty members in research, and 6) provide students with information on academic vs. industry careers in toxicology, and 7) provide each participant the opportunity to participate in GRE Institute workshops to prepare for the Graduate Record Exam. At the conclusion of the program, each student will present their work in a poster session held on campus. This training program provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate students, particularly under-represented minority students, to obtain training and research experience in the field of toxicology at a research intensive university with outstanding toxicology programs.

Apply Today!

Application deadline: February 1, 2017. Decisions will be made by March 1, 2017. Program runs May 22 thru July 28.

(Applications should include the completed website form, transcripts, two letters of recommendation and resume.)

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WORLD CLASS RESEARCH

Funding

  • A stipend to each student ($4,000 over 10 weeks)
  • Funds for laboratory supplies ($1,000)
  • Room and board (includes meals) at Hendrick House dormitory
  • Participation in the GRE workshop and the program will pay GRE exam fees if trainees take the GRE
  • 3-4 independent study credits (tuition waived for in-state and out-of-state students)

Amenities

  • Summer health insurance (McKinley student health fee coverage)
  • Access to campus recreational facilities, including gyms, pools and sports facilities
  • Access to the university libraries
  • Pass for free access to the MTD bus, which has extensive network access coverage

PRECEPTORS

Indrani Bagchi
Indrani Bagchi
Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Dr. Bagchi’s laboratory is directed towards understanding how endocrine disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol A alter uterine function during embryonic implantation. Students in her laboratory have recently utilized DNA microarray analysis to identify estrogen- and progesterone-regulated genes, which are potential regulators of uterine function during implantation. The group is now investigating the hormonal regulation and function of these putative implantation stage-specific genes in the endometrium. Summer projects are designed to investigate how chronic exposure to BPA affects uterine epithelial function during implantation. Students will employ immunohistochemical analysis to determine the expression of known markers of epithelial receptivity during implantation in unexposed and BPA-exposed uterine tissues.  Read more

Stephen Boppart
Stephen Boppart

Professor, Departments Bioengineering, Medicine, and Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Stephen Boppart develops and investigates new contrast and therapeutic agents for imaging and treating cancer. These agents range from nanoparticles of gold and iron-oxide, to fluorescent molecular dyes, to protein-shell microspheres, all of which can be chemically functionalized for site-specific targeting, and for delivering therapy. The use of these agents, however, requires a critical understanding of the bio-distribution, kinetics, toxicity, and environmental impact, much of which remains unknown, despite the large amount of research in recent years. Students involved in this training program and working in Dr. Boppart’s laboratory would investigate these questions with the goals of improving our basic science and applied technology knowledge. Read more

Jodi Flaws
Jodi Flaws

Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Dr. Flaws’ laboratory is focused on determining the effects of environmental toxicants on the development of the female reproductive system, the mechanisms that underlie the effects of reproductive toxicants on the ovary, and if environmental exposures are associated with reproductive abnormalities in women. Her laboratory is particularly interested in the endocrine disrupting chemicals known as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. Possible summer projects include using in vitro and in vivo techniques to examine mechanisms by which BPA and phthalates disrupt steroidogenesis and ovarian follicular growth. Summer projects also include using in vivo methods to examine the impact of BPA and phthalates on fertility in the first and subsequent generations of mice. Read more

Rodney Johnson
Rodney Johnson

Professor, Department of Animal Sciences

Dr. Johnson conducts research in the field of neuroimmunology with the goal of understanding how immune cells interact with the brain. Much of his research has focused on the effects of aging on brain inflammation and the role of cytokines in age-associated neurobehavioral deficits. A second line of research investigates in a neonatal piglet model how perinatal infection, nutrition, and birth weight affect brain and cognitive development. Summer project: Neonicotinoids are nicotine analogues that function as nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) agonists which are being used as broad spectrum pesticides. Unfortunately, because of their presumed specificity for insect nAChRs, their potential toxic effects on other species have not been extensively researched. This is surprising since mammalian immune cells express similar receptors that when activated, are immunosuppressive.  Read More

Janice Juraska
Janice Juraska

Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Juraska’s laboratory examines the effects of hormones on the development of the nervous system, especially the cortex, and behavior. At the present time, her laboratory is examining the effects of developmental exposure to phthalates on the prefrontal cortex and several aspects of later behavior. This summer, her laboratory will have several ongoing projects in which a student can participate that involve testing rats in mazes and other related tasks. Also brain tissue will be cut, mounted and stained for later neuroanatomical quantification and help with this can come from undergraduates.  Read more

Jongsook Kim Kemper
Jongsook Kim Kemper

Professor, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Dr. Kemper’s laboratory is studying transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of metabolism and energy balance. Her group is particularly interested in understanding of how lipid and glucose levels are regulated by the nuclear receptors, FXR and SHP, and the epigenetic modulators. Her research utilizes cutting-edge systems biology approaches, including proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics, as well as, mouse models. She is also conducting research on environmental obesogens, such as dioxin and bisphenol A. Students involved in this training program would investigate to understand how these endocrine-disrupting chemicals influence hepatic lipid and glucose metabolism.  Read More

CheMyong Ko
CheMyong Ko

Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Dr. Ko’s laboratory focuses on the effects of prenatal exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals on the development and function of the male reproductive system. In addition, Dr. Ko’s laboratory create transgenic animals and use them for t the study of the mechanisms underlying the development of reproductive disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovulatory defect and hormonal imbalance, all of which are risk factors for women’s health including infertility. The following two projects are available for the SureTox students: (1) Impact of prenatal exposure to environmental toxicants on male gonad development and (2) Impact of prenatal exposure to environmental toxicants on male sex hormone production. Read more

Romana Nowak
Romana Nowak

Professor, Department of Animal Sciences

Dr. Nowak’s laboratory focuses on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on the uterus. We are investigating the effects of endocrine disrupters on embryo-maternal interactions at implantation and early pregnancy and their role in promoting two common reproductive diseases in women, endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Our studies involved the use of genetic mouse models as well as in vitro studies with human cell lines. Two projects available for the SureTox students are 1) impact of environmental toxicants on embryo and placental trophoblast survival and growth; and 2) effect of phthalates on human mesothelial cell invasiveness. Read more

Michael Plewa
Michael Plewa

Professor, Department of Crop Sciences; Assoc. Director of the Global Safe Water Institute (College of Engineering)

Dr. Plewa is a recipient of the Campus-Wide Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research. His laboratory has developed and calibrated novel quantitative genetic and cytotoxicity assays in mammalian and human cells to identify, isolate and chemically characterize environmental agents and water contaminants in concert with their toxicity. Current projects involve the chemical structure analyses and in vitro toxicology of contaminants in drinking water, desalinated water and wastewaters. Dr. Plewa’s laboratory works closely with chemists and engineers to conduct research in both basic science and its application in the protection of the public health and the environment.  Read More

Lori Raetzman
Lori Raetzman

Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Dr. Raetzman’s laboratory focuses on pituitary gland development, including what makes pituitary cells divide, turn into hormone producing cells, and move so they can be in contact with the bloodstream. Her lab is interested in determining how intrinsic cues such as Notch signaling affect cell fate and how endocrine disrupting chemical exposure impacts pituitary gland development and function. Trainees will use tissue collected from mice exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates to examine mRNA and protein expression of key developmental markers to uncover critical windows during which the pituitary is sensitive to exposures. Trainees will also culture mouse pituitaries to determine direct effects on the pituitary of the chemicals being examined.  Read More

Susan L. Schantz
Susan L. Schantz

Professor, Program Director Interdisciplinary Environmental Toxicology Program, Department of Comparative Biosciences and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

Dr. Schantz’s research centers on understanding the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals, including BPA and phthalates, on brain and behavior. Her research focuses on exposures during development and aging, two periods when the nervous system is particularly vulnerable to insult. Her approach includes lab animal studies and parallel epidemiological studies in exposed humans. One aspect is mechanistically based, focusing on the cognitive and auditory effects of these compounds, and the neurochemical and hormonal mechanisms underlying those effects. The ultimate goal is to identify how chemicals and other factors interact to mediate neuropsychological and endocrine effects observed in human populations. Possible summer research projects could include testing the effects of dietary estrogens on brain and behavior in laboratory rats or assessing how prenatal exposures to chemicals found in consumer products is affecting cognitive development in human infants.  Read More

Jing Yang
Jing Yang

Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Dr. Yang’s laboratory investigates molecular mechanisms governing early embryonic development. Currently, his laboratory is studying functions and regulatory mechanisms of the Hedgehog and Wnt signaling pathways during vertebrate development. He is also interested in maternal control of early embryonic patterning. His laboratory takes advantage of amphibian embryos to assess the effects of exposure to BPA and MXC on the survival and development of the embryo. Potential summer research projects include monitoring gene expression in embryos exposed to BPA and MXC by in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR. Read more

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