Center for Biomedical Research

Hannah Hall of Science, Room 276
244 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4451
(location map)
(248) 370-4871
Fax (248) 370-3420

Yang Xia, Director

Summer Research Program in Biological Sciences and Chemistry

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Biological Sciences and Chemistry is currently accepting applications for Summer 2020.

April 29 - July 24, 2020

The Summer Research Program is a unique opportunity to conduct independent research projects in biological science, biomedical science, chemistry, or environmental science. Under the guidance of a faculty member, students will gain experience in the methods of scientific research, with the goal of exposing talented undergraduate students to the practices of a professional scientific career. At the conclusion of the program, students will demonstrate improved technical, critical thinking and communication skills.

  • Students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA to be eligible for the program, and be registered at Oakland University at least part-time (6 credits) in the Winter 2020 semester and at least part-time in the Fall 2020 semester to be eligible for the program.
  • The Summer Research Program is a 12 ½ -week program during the summer of 2020.
  • Students will work one on one with a Principal Investigator (PI) on a research project in a laboratory setting.
  • Students are encouraged to take no more than one course during the summer 2020 semester. Any plans to take summer classes must be approved by the advising PI, as coursework may interfere with participation in the program.
  • Awardees are expected to work 30 hrs/week but not more than 40 hrs/wk for the duration of the program. The total time commitment for the 12 1/2 weeks is 415 hours for the full stipend.
  • All students will participate in a symposium at the end of the program and provide a short presentation based upon their research project. Student are also required to participate in bi-weekly seminars throughout the duration of the program.
  • Awardees are also encouraged to continue with their research project during the academic year by enrolling in BIO 4995, BCM 4995, or CHM 4995.
  • Students with an existing PI that has agreed to support their SURP 2020 participation should follow the regular SURP application procedures. On the application, select the supporting PI as the first choice mentor and indicate the funding source given by the PI. The supporting PI should confirm this information in their letter of recommendation for the student.

College of Arts and Science Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry or Biochemistry with expected graduation in Fall 2020 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for the fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Department of Biological Sciences Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Biological Science or Biomedical Sciences with an expected graduation of Fall 2020 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Department of Chemistry Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Environmental Sciences, Chemistry or Biochemistry with an expected graduation of Fall 2020 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Dershwitz Summer Research Fellowship
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry with an expected graduation of Fall 2020 or later, are eligible to apply. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 during the previous four semesters of study is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Oakland University Summer Research Fellowships
Oakland University undergraduates majoring in Biological Science, Biomedical Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry or Biochemistry with an expected graduation of Fall 2020 or later, are eligible to apply.. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 in science courses taken at OU is required for this fellowship. An interview may be requested.

Application materials must include:

  1. A completed application (available in electronic format here). In the application, please list three mentors from the list below that you are interested in working with for the summer program.
  2. A brief resume.
  3. A letter of recommendation (only one) from someone who can attest to your scientific interest and aptitude. Letters of recommendation must be sent directly from the source to Letters of recommendation will not be accepted if submitted by the applicant.
  4. Unofficial transcripts from SAIL of all courses taken at OU and transcripts of courses not taken at OU. Please save all transcripts as one file in either .doc(x), .pdf, or .jpeg format.

Deadline: March 2, 2020            Notification of Acceptance: March 20, 2020

All completed applications must be submitted via email to

Any questions can be submitted via email to

For more information about the Department of Biological Sciences, please click here.

For more information about the Department of Chemistry, please click here.

Mentors from
Biological Sciences

Mentors – Biological Sciences

Fabia Battistuzzi

Dr. Battistuzzi is a fully computational, dry lab with a focus on the evolution of microbes (prokaryotes and eukaryotes). Projects include: (i) evolution of early life, which provides students with the opportunity to work on high-end phylogenetics and molecular timing of early evolution of prokaryotes; (ii) evolution of genome complexity, with a focus on pathogens and their comparison to non-pathogenic species; (iii) software optimization for molecular clock methods carried out via large-scale simulation studies. Basic programming skills are not required to join the lab but can be helpful. Students planning to select Dr. Battistuzzi as a preferred PI should contact her at before submitting their application. 


Rasul Chaudhry

Research focuses on the molecular regulation of genes involved in stemness, potency, and differentiation of embryonic and adult stem cells. He is also interested in tissue bioengineering, stem cell-based therapies to treat degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, MS, and MD.


Mi Hye Song

Dr. Song’s lab is interested in understanding molecular and genetic mechanisms of Centrosome biogenesis; Mitotic spindle assembly and function; Cell cycle regulation using the nematode C. elegans model. Our research will contribute to further our knowledge of human diseases including cancer, microcephaly and neurodegenerative disorder. We use a combination of advanced techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, RNA-seq, RNAi, and high-resolution confocal imaging.

Lan Jiang

Mechanisms of biological tube formation using Drosophila trachea as a model organism.

Zijuan Liu

To study role of ZIP8 in regulate manganese homeostasis and neurological disorders.

Tom Raffel

Raffel lab research focuses on the ecology of parasitic diseases in aquatic animals. Current projects are focused on applying metabolic theory based mathematical models to describe the temperature dependence of a fungal disease of frogs and salamanders, and on determining ecological drivers of snail-borne parasitic diseases of humans and wildlife. Students planning to select Dr. Raffel as a preferred PI should contact him at before submitting their application.

Luis Villa-Diaz

The Villa-Diaz lab focus in investigating the role of integrin alpha6 in stem cells. Integrin alhpa6 is a transmembrane receptor, that we have identified as the only common protein translated in all stem cell populations, from pluripotent stem cells to cancer stem cells. In our laboratory we use human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells to generate other stem cell populations such as neuronal stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells and cardiac stem cells, to investigate the role(s) that integrin alpha 6 plays on their development, self-renewal, connection with their stem cell niche, and differentiation.


Randal Westrick

Pathologic blood clotting (thrombosis) leading to heart attacks, strokes and venous thromboembolism is the leading cause of death in the USA. While the risk of developing thrombosis is known to be 60% heritable, only a few of the responsible genes have been identified. Our laboratory in using mouse heart attack and venous thromboembolism models to identify the genes involved in thrombosis. Students planning to select Dr. Westrick as a preferred PI should contact him at before submitting their application.



Mentors from

Mentors - Chemistry

Faculty Name

Research Areas

Adam Avery

The research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control morphogenesis and maintenance of intricate neuronal structures, and how these mechanisms are disrupted to cause neurological disease.  The lab employs protein biochemical, and genetic and live imaging approaches using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly).   Students in the lab have the unique opportunity to explore questions in neurobiology at both the single molecule and whole organism level.

Kodiah Beyeh

It is very challenging to develop new materials with well-defined properties based on specially designed properties of the molecular constituents for the translation of the intrinsic properties of molecules into material properties. It is therefore essential to have control over the molecular interactions and orientation to create function in the material. In our group, we work on designing supramolecular materials through high-affinity and selective binding of several bioanalytes with synthetic supramolecular receptors possessing defined cavities. As a Summer Student in our group, you would perform cutting-edge experiments in a dynamic research environment. You would learn how to prepare different receptor-substrate assemblies and investigate their chemical and physical properties with the use of novel experimental techniques such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Mass spectrometry, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC), Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) etc).

Ferman Chavez

In animals, carotenoids yield essential precursors for vision, embryonic development, cellular homeostasis, and immunity (Vitamin A). Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenases (CCDs) are enzymes capable of producing carotenoid derivatives. They generally catalyze the cleavage of carotenoid carbon-carbon double bonds. The ferrous ion is coordinated to 4 histidine nitrogens. In this work, we aim to probe the structure-reactivity relationship for the CCD active sites using small molecule model compounds. 

Roman Dembinski

  • Novel Synthetic Methods
  • Nucleoside (DNA/RNA) Analogs
  • Bioorganic and Organometallic Chemistry
  • Fluorous Chemistry

Alexander Rusakov

Dr. Rusakov's research is in the area of chemical theory and computation with an emphasis on heavy elements. Combining bespoke approaches of relativistic quantum chemistry and condensed-matter physics with efficient algorithms and massively parallel computations, his group focuses on predictive modeling of complex and experimentally challenging heavy-element systems. Of particular interest are heavy radionuclide compounds for targeted alpha-particle cancer therapy and theoretical insights into cutting-edge experiments on the identification of superheavy elements. The Summer Research Program in Rusakov's group will introduce students to the development of modern computational chemistry methods and their application to modeling complex heavy-element systems of fundamental and practical interest. Ideally, students would pursue publishing their results in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Michael Sevilla

  • Mechanisms of Radiation Damage to DNA
  • Electron Spin Resonance Analysis for Free Radicals
  • Quantum Chemistry Calculations of Free Radical Properties and Structure

David Szlag

Specific problems that we are investigating utilize qPCR to quantify and identify changes in aquatic microbial communities.  These methods can be applied to recreational water quality, invasive species, and the problems experienced by Toledo and other Lake Erie Water Treatment Plants.  We are also developing new mass spec methods for endocrine disrupting chemicals and cyanobacterial toxins.

Evan Trivedi

  • Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry
  • Tetrapyrrole and lanthanide coordination chemistry; synthetic methods
  • Luminescence spectroscopy; solid state and near-infrared
  • Therapeutic development in vitro; tissue culture and fluorescence microscopy
  • Drug development in vivo; molecular imaging in small animal models

Colin Wu

The primary research focus is to dissect the molecular mechanisms by which DNA repair enzymes function and to investigate how their defects contribute to the early onset of genetic disorders. In particular, how the FANCJ DNA helicase and the BRCA1 tumor suppressor carry out their DNA repair activities. Mutations in FANCJ and BRCA1 are strongly linked to the onset of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and Fanconi anemia. A combination of biochemistry, single-molecule biophysics, and structural approaches to use to gain a detailed understanding of the macromolecular interactions involved in this DNA repair network.  Work in the lab involves:

  • Protein-DNA interactions
  • Enzyme mechanisms
  • DNA repair
  • Cancer metabolism


Ziming Yang

  • Biogeochemical transformation of organic carbon in soils, rivers, and lakes
  • Organic-mineral/metal interactions in the environment
  • Kinetics, mechanisms, and thermodynamics of organic reactions in hydrothermal systems
  • Mineral-catalyzed reactions in green chemistry

Xiangqun Zeng

The research focus is the study of fundamental and applied interfacial phenomena, particularly the design and control of molecular characters and characterizations of the dynamic reactions at electrode interfaces. Current projects in my lab are: (1) Understanding the interfacial composition, structure and properties of ionic liquids and conductive polymers for sensor, electrocatalysis and energy storage applications; (2) Applying principles from chemistry and biology for directed assembly or synthesis of thin films of conductive polymers, biological molecules (peptides, proteins and carbohydrates), cells and inorganics on electrode surfaces; (3) Developing miniaturized analysis platforms that combines high performance, miniaturized electrodes and instrumentation electronics with multi-transduction-mode sensor array devices by collaboration with engineers. All these projects are interdisciplinary in nature that involves the use of multiple electrochemical, spectroscopic and microscopic techniques in order to determine the composition, structure and dynamic interfacial reactions and/or properties at electrode interfaces