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 undergraduate students during the 2022 summer academic break – May 16 thru May 29 for GRE Institute and from May 31-July 29 for the Summer Research Program. 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 Interdisciplinary Program in Environmental Health and Toxicology. Students will receive $4000 stipend.

The training program will accept 7-8 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 and peer 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 talks 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 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 her/his work at the Illinois Summer Research Symposium 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 15, 2022

(Applications should include the completed website form, transcripts, two letters of recommendation and resume. Decisions will be made by March 15, 2022.)

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WORLD CLASS RESEARCH

Funding

  • A stipend to each student ($4,000 over 10 weeks)
  • Funds for laboratory supplies ($500)
  • Room and board (includes food) at Hendrick House dormitory
  • Participation in the GRE workshop and the program will pay GRE exam fees if trainees take the GRE
  • 4 independent study credits (tuition waived for in-state and out-of-state students)
  • Summer health insurance (McKinley student health fee coverage)

Amenities

  • 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

Sayee Anakk
Sayee Anakk

Associate Professor of Molecular and Intergrative Physiology

The Anakk laboratory is focused on understanding metabolism in a normal and diseased state. Our goal is to investigate how nuclear receptors maintain metabolic homeostasis and protects the liver from diseases and toxic insults. We are primarily focused on elucidating the roles for nuclear receptors, Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR), Small Heterodimer Partner (SHP) and Constitutive Androstane Receptor (CAR) during liver injury and growth.  Read more

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

Matthew Dean
Matthew Dean

Assistant Professor. Dept of Animal Science

Dr. Dean’s laboratory is focused on the biology of the uterus and fallopian tubes, known as oviducts in non-human species. Current projects in the lab include the hormonal regulation of glucose and glycogen metabolism in the uterine epithelium, and a project focused on how high-grade serous ovarian cancer cells, which are now known to originate from the fallopian tube epithelia, interact with the ovarian microenvironment during primary metastasis. Summer research opportunities for SureTox scholars include examining the effects of common endocrine-disrupting chemicals (e.g., phthalates or BPA) on the survival and metabolism of the uterine epithelia. Experiments would include culturing uterine epithelial cells, treating the cells with environmentally relevant concentrations of these EDCs, and comparing growth and glucose metabolism. 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 undelying 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 such as phthalates, water disinfection by-products, and pesticides. Possible summer projects include using in vitro and in vivo techniques to examine mechanisms by which phthalates, water disinfection by-products, and pesticides disrupt steroidogenesis and ovarian follicular growth. Summer projects also include using in vivo methods to examine the impact of phthalates, water disinfection by-products, and pesticides on fertility in the first and subsequent generations of mice. 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

Zeynep Madak-Erdogan
Zeynep Madak-Erdogan

Associate Professor of Nutrition and the Director of Women’s Health, Hormones and Nutrition lab

Dr. Madak-Erdogan is an Associate Professor of Nutrition and the Director of Women’s Health, Hormones and Nutrition lab at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She received her B.S. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bilkent University in 2002. After completing her PhD and Postdoctoral studies on Mechanisms of Estrogen Receptor Action, she joined Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at UIUC, in 2014. Her lab uses various animal and 3D-reengineered models, and advanced statistical and computational analysis to understand how nutrients, environmental toxicant exposures, and hormones impact metabolic health and hormone-dependent cancer outcomes. In addition to mentoring several undergraduate and graduate students, she has taught courses in the areas of Toxicology, Diet, Nutrition and Cancer and Nutrition and Women’s health. She has received several awards including NIEHS, Pre- and Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Endocrine Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology Fellowship, National Center for Supercomputing Applications Fellow, Women in Endocrinology Young Investigator Award form Endocrine Society and Mary Swartz Rose Young investigator Award and Bioserv Experimental Nutrition Award from American Society of Nutrition.” Read more

Megan Mahoney
Megan Mahoney

Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Dr. Mahoney’s laboratory focuses on the effects of steroid hormones and endocrine disrupting chemicals on a range of behaviors. We are investigating the role of the chemical class known as phthalates on sleep and biological rhythms (circadian rhythms), anxiety and novelty seeking, and sexual behaviors. Potential projects available for SureTox students would be to 1) examine the role of a phthalate mixture on attractivity, receptivity, and partner preference in male and female mice and 2) investigate the impact of phthalates on gene expression patterns in sexually dimorphic brain regions of mice. Read more

Catherine Murphy
Catherine Murphy

Professor, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Catherine J. Murphy is a chemist who specializes in the synthesis, surface chemistry, biological applications and environmental implications of nanomaterials. Students in her lab routinely create gold nanocrystals of controlled size, shape, and surface chemistry, leading to controllable optical properties suitable for bioimaging and chemical sensing. For this toxicology program, student projects include analysis of the long-term, low-dose effect of nanoparticles on cells; the creation of nanomaterials that could sequester potential toxicants; and measurement of the changing surface chemistry of nanoparticles that are exposed to an environmental milieu. 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

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

Prabu Reddi
Prabu Reddi

Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Male factor accounts for 50% of the cases of infertility. It affects roughly 2.4 million men in the United States. There is no treatment for male infertility because the causative factors are not known. My laboratory studies proteins important for male fertility. We use the mouse as a model system to understand the causes of male infertility. Currently, our focus is on a DNA/RNA binding protein called TDP-43 (TAR DNA binding protein) and its role in spermatogenesis. We have found that some infertile men show abnormal expression of TDP-43. We were able to reproduce that phenotype in mice by using gene knockout technology. Male mice lacking TDP-43 in Sertoli cells or germ cells have fertility problems. Now that we know that TDP-43 is an important protein for male fertility, we are beginning to ask the question if exposure to environmental toxicants might alter the expression of TDP-43 in the testis and thus cause infertility. SURE-Tox students will work on a project using mice exposed to endocrine disruptors and investigate the effect on TDP-43 expression and sperm production. They will use molecular, biochemical, and cell biological techniques. The goal of this training is to expose the student to hypothesis-driven inter-disciplinary biomedical research, analysis of data, and communication of research findings. Read More

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

Associate Professor of Bioengineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Technology Entrepreneurship

The Smith Lab develops nanomaterials for applications in the life sciences, focusing on nanoparticles for imaging in the body and therapeutic nanomaterials to treat diseases. Our understanding of the intrinsic toxicity of nanomaterials, and their unique degradation pathways in cells and tissues, is still at an early stage. We are interested in evaluating the degradation and elimination processes involved in compound semiconductor nanocrystals as well as organic polymeric nanomaterials, using both molecular biology techniques and high-resolution optical imaging. We are particularly interested in how these processes differ across subjects based on body composition and disease state. Read More

Michael Spinella
Michael Spinella

Professor, Comparative Biosciences

The Spinella laboratory is focused on the molecular genetics and epigenetics of cancer, especially in the areas of mechanisms of tumorigenesis, cancer therapy and drug resistance. His lab has a long-standing interest in testicular cancer, a disease with a strong link to environmental toxicant exposures including endocrine disrupting chemicals. Summer projects will utilize cell culture-based and animal models to assess the influence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the biology of testicular cancer with a focus on epigenetics. Students will be exposed to cutting edge molecular, genomics and bioinformatic techniques. Read More

Jing Yang
Jing Yang

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

Achieve Your Academic Goals

High quality research experiences for
under-represented minority students