This summer, Whitman College students have new access to biomedical research opportunities with the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Under a new Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) partnership, Mayo will hold two spots for current Whitman students to participate in research at one of three research centers in Arizona, Florida or Minnesota.
The strategic partnership is the result of collaborative work between Professors Michael Coronado and DeLisa Fairweather '87, who serves as director of Translational Cardiovascular Research at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Whitman College is the fourth institution to create a SURF partnership with Mayo.
"When I first got here, one of my goals was to create research opportunities for undergrads," said Coronado, who joined Whitman's faculty in 2017. "Mayo recognizes the need to create exceptional research opportunities for undergraduate students and Whitman College values research as a critical component of the Whitman experience. This collaboration could not be more perfect."
The partnership follows the model of Mayo's existing SURF program, a highly competitive summer research fellowship. Each year, more than 1,300 students from around the country apply for the fellowship, and 150 receive it. The partnership allows a panel of Whitman science faculty to select the student researchers through an internal application process and then join the existing SURF program at Mayo Clinic.
The successful students will receive a $6,000 stipend to cover travel and room and board for the summer experience. The funds are being provided by the college's Doctors Robert F. and Elizabeth M. Welty Student/Faculty Research Endowment.
The SURF program provides an in-depth research experience in the biomedical field and prepares them to continue their research in a doctoral program.
"The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship allows students to experience research first-hand in an active research environment," Fairweather said. "The focus of the majority of labs at Mayo Clinic are translational- that is, the research is based on a clinical need and research is aimed at developing new ways to diagnose or treat patients."
All Whitman students are eligible to apply for the program, but the best candidates will be rising sophomores and juniors with a strong interest in biomedical science and existing lab or research experience.
The new partnership expands Whitman's outside research opportunities for students. For the past decade, the college has partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, on a Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Now with Mayo, Whitman students have guaranteed research opportunities at two major scientific research institutions.
"It's really special that we have these research opportunities here," Coronado said. "I want to create the same reputation for the Mayo Clinic program that we have with Fred Hutch. I want to get as many people as possible to know about the program and experience impactful scientific research."
Applications for the first cohort of students are due Jan. 10, 2020, and the first two Whitman-Mayo Clinic research fellows will be announced in the spring.