UAAP Launches Amgen-UROP Scholars Program

By Michael Bergren, Assistant Dean for Academic and Research Initiatives, UAAP

On June 11, 2007, the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming was pleased to launch the Amgen-UROP Scholars Program, a new summer undergraduate research initiative. Supported by a grant from the Amgen Foundation and managed by the UAAP, the Program is aimed at undergraduates interested in research in the sciences and biotechnology areas. Students are placed in MIT labs to collaborate with MIT faculty. With half of the participating students recruited from other US colleges and universities, Amgen-UROP provides a valuable opportunity to bring visiting undergraduates together with students in the summer UROP community.

For this inaugural year, twenty eight talented undergraduates were chosen from 170 applications submitted to MIT. Half the Scholars are current MIT students; the other half attending are from other institutions, including Louisiana State, Stanford, Oberlin, Yale, Columbia, and University of Puerto Rico. Like traditional UROP students, the Scholars are conducting full-time summer research under the mentorship and supervision of MIT faculty, and will reap the same benefits: participating in important research projects, gaining hands-on lab experience, and establishing lasting connections with faculty and other research mentors. Amgen-UROP research is taking place in a variety of academic departments and interdisciplinary areas, including Biology, Chemistry, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Chemical Engineering, the Cancer Research Center, and the Center for Environmental Health Sciences.

Amgen Scholars participate in weekly educational and social events, including a series of lunchtime presentations led by faculty, including Profs. Robert Langer, Daniel Hastings, and Hazel Sive. They will also attend a mid-summer biotechnology research symposium in Lake Tahoe, and will present at an end of summer poster session held at MIT. Members of the DUE Community will be invited to the Amgen-UROP Poster Session;details will follow later in the summer.

The Program kicked off with a catered welcome dinner in Twenty Chimneys, where students seemed to be genuinely excited to be at MIT as Amgen Scholars. After a presentation by Environmental Health Services the following morning, the Scholars joined their labs, and initial feedback from the students is quite promising.  Reports one Scholar: "My first days in the lab have gone very well! I was able to attend a Parkinson's disease meeting at Harvard Medical School and I've already started learning UNIX/LINUX computer programming for data analysis." Writes another: "Everyone (in the lab) seems really nice and eager to help, and lots of us Amgen kids are more than willing to make friends and explore the city together."

MIT is one of ten colleges and universities offering Amgen Scholars Programs; other participating institutions include CalTech, Columbia University, UCLA, University of Washington, and Howard University. The Institute is also home to the Amgen Scholars National Program Office, which provides coordination, technical oversight, and other support to participating universities.

Amgen-UROP runs June 11 through August 10, 2007.