MSUToday
Published: July 9, 2019

NatSci undergrads receive prestigious summer fellowships

Contact(s): Val Osowski College of Natural Science office: (517) 432-4561 osowskiv@msu.edu

Alyssa Corpus and Jack Dodson, undergraduate students in Michigan State University’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, or MMG, in the College of Natural Science, were both selected for the prestigious and highly competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, or SURF, program from the American Society for Microbiology, or ASM.

The ASM, a professional organization for scientists studying viruses, bacteria, fungi and other areas of microbiology, is the largest professional life science organization in the world with over 50,000 members. The society developed the fellowship program to support undergraduates actively pursuing careers in the microbial sciences and working with an ASM faculty mentor.

The two seniors will use SURF’s $4,000 stipend to perform 10 weeks of summer research in the lab and an additional $2,000 for travel to the 2020 international ASM Microbe meeting held in Chicago to present their results, network with leaders in the field and learn about cutting edge science in microbiology.

"The department was very excited to hear the news that these two outstanding undergraduates received ASM summer fellowships,” said Scott Mulrooney, MMG director of undergraduate studies. “MMG makes considerable efforts to provide undergraduate research opportunities. Having two students receive this prestigious award in the same year out of a national applicant pool shows that MMG is on an upward trajectory in the quality of its undergraduate programs."

Dodson works in MMG assistant professor Neal Hammer’s Laboratory on the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, which is the leading cause of hospital acquired infections and responsible for over 10,000 deaths in the United States every year. Using a technique known as transposon sequencing, Dodson’s research aims to understand the mechanisms that S. aureus uses to obtain sulfur, an element essential for its growth.

Corpus will spend the summer investigating the pathogen Vibrio cholerae, the cause of millions of cases of cholera every year. Her research in MMG associate professor Chris Waters’ Laboratory will probe the action of two of the pathogen’s proteins whose purpose in facilitating the disease is still a mystery.

To learn more about the SURF program, visit here.