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Whitman College Students Head for Mayo Clinic Summer Research Fellowships

Abedalrahman Jomaa ’25 and Maddie Sramek ’25 will spend 10 weeks this summer in a prestigious biomedical research experience at Mayo Clinic research centers

By Heidi Pitts ’01

Image of a Mayo Clinic entrance.

Two Whitman College students, Abedalrahman Jomaa ’25 and Maddie Sramek ’25, have secured spots in the 2024 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program offered in partnership with the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. SURF fellowships offer unparalleled opportunities for hands-on research experience and mentorship in esteemed Mayo Clinic research centers nationwide.

Making Medications Work Better in the Brain

Jomaa, who is one of Whitman’s first students in the new Brain, Behavior & Cognition major, will focus on pharmacogenomics, the study of how a person’s DNA affects their response to medications. His research aims to revolutionize the way alcoholism and depression are treated, offering more effective and tailored therapies.

Photo of Whitman College junior Abedalrahman Jomaa.

Abedalrahman Jomaa ’25

“I look forward to deepening my understanding of the researcher-clinician role, which will allow me to effectively bridge the gap between laboratory discoveries and their practical applications in patient care,” says Jomaa. 

Thanks to essential skills learned in the lab of Associate Professor of Biology Arielle Cooley, Jomaa is well prepared for this fellowship. “That experience taught me the importance of collaboration and effective communication with other scientists, skills that are essential for conducting multidisciplinary research and for the integration of innovative therapies into clinical settings,” he says.

Joining the Community of Diabetes Researchers

A Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB) major, Sramek conducted research last summer with her advisor, Associate Professor of BBMB Jim Russo

Photo of Whitman College junior Maddie Sramek.

Maddie Sramek ’25

“Over the course of the summer, I was exposed to many different techniques that are not taught in the typical undergraduate lab class,” says Sramek. “I’m excited to take these skills with me to the Mayo Clinic this summer and apply them to a different area of metabolic disease research.”

Sramek’s fellowship subject is diabetes, metabolism and inflammation. This research is critical for improving health outcomes for people affected by the disease and reducing its global burden, she says, noting that incidents of diabetes are rising around the world.

It’s also a deeply personal topic for Sramek, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes almost 15 years ago.

“It’s been a goal of mine to join the community of researchers or health care professionals who dedicate their time and expertise to alleviating the burdens of those living with the multiple forms of this disease,” Sramek says. “My dream is coming true a few years earlier than I was expecting, and I couldn’t be more excited!”

Building Skills for a Better World

The Whitman–Mayo Clinic SURF partnership began in 2019 with support from DeLisa Fairweather ’87, Director of Translational Research for the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. For 10 weeks each summer, two students, funded by the Doctors Robert F. and Elizabeth M. Welty Student/Faculty Research Endowment, conduct impactful research at Mayo Clinic sites in Rochester, Minnesota; Jacksonville, Florida; or Scottsdale, Arizona.

Whitman’s previous SURF fellows have gone on to advanced degree programs and research positions at leading facilities including Mayo Clinic, Rice University and the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute.

Learn more about Whitman’s undergraduate research opportunities. 

Published on May 7, 2024
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