We Know What Our Students Did Last Summer... Research, of Course!

February 06, 2024

Now is the time to plan for a summer research internship. Explore a few examples of what our students accomplished last summer for inspiration!

Each summer, students from the College of Science participate in prestigious research programs across the globe. Working closely with faculty experts on a wide range of projects, they acquire valuable hands-on experience, enriching their understanding of science and research practices. This serves as an excellent opportunity for them to prepare for their academic and professional journeys ahead. Students interested in summer research can find opportunities on the LSU Discover website. Certain programs even provide stipends and support for housing and travel arrangements. Act promptly, as the majority of application deadlines are approaching within the next month.

Explore exciting experiences from past summers:

Keeping AI in Check

Senior Mathematics student Harrison Gietz explored his interest in artificial intelligence (AI) at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. As a participant in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program funded by the National Science Foundation, Gietz led a computer science project focused on enhancing the robustness of AI language models. His research aimed to make these models more resilient to harmful or misleading inputs, and resulted in a first-author publication in a computer science journal. After graduation, Gietz is considering graduate studies in computer science, with a specific focus on artificial intelligence, or venturing into an industry position dedicated to research or machine learning engineering. Gietz envisions his future work contributing to the safe and responsible development of AI systems.

Group of students visiting a national park

Cancer Research

This past summer, biological sciences senior Jared Rodrigue participated in cancer research at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at the University of Missouri, Columbia. His research focused on determining a gene's role in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Rodrigue spent his time designing experiments to study the role of the gene dpp4 in CML and conducting bioinformatic analysis of previous data to find differential gene expression between wild-type mice and those genetically engineered not to express the gene dpp4 (knockout mice). Rodrigue credits the experience with further pushing him to pursue a PhD in neuroscience. Currently, Rodrigue is working on applying to neuroscience graduate and post baccalaureate programs. 

Group of students posing outdoors, next to a statue

Algal Blooms

Sophomore Jennifer Cagnolatti made the most of her summer by engaging in LSU’s Gulf Scholars program, diving deeper into her biological science major. Cagnolatti participated in a research project titled “Evaluation of altered nutrient conditions on algal growth during dynamic co-culture,” which looked at how two different algae species reacted under nutrient limitations with the use of an engineering co-culture device called the insert system. Cagnolatti’s role encompassed printing various inserts with a 3-D printer and optimizing a sterilization protocol to avoid contamination in her experiment. Her lab work also involved preparing agarose mixtures, algal cultures, and nutrient stocks. Although she knew little about algal species before joining the project, Cagnolatti quickly learned the importance of algal blooms to the environment and human health, and the significant impacts it can have to the food chain. Presently, Cagnolatti is involved in research on Staphylococcus aureus in Dr. Chen’s lab at LSU. 

Student stading next to a scientific poster

Cell and Tissue Biomanufacturing

Biochemistry junior Stephen Wheat took his research endeavors overseas, traveling to Germany as part of the NSF International Research Experience for Students: Internship in Cell and Tissue Biomanufacturing. The program took place at the Hannover Medical School (MHH), where Wheat worked full-time, collaborating with a diverse team of researchers. His project, “Murine Colonoids and Bone Marrow Derived Macrophages as Models for Macrophage-Mediated Regenerative Response in the Intestinal Epithelium,” focused on process development for cell and tissue manufacturing. Wheat presented his findings at the Leibniz Research Laboratory for Biotechnology and Artificial Organs (LEBAO) at MHH, and at the 2023 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. In the long term, Wheat intends to pursue an MD-PhD track to bridge the gap between biomedical research and clinical application.



Image of studets in front a research institute

Aging and Neurodegeneration

Biochemistry senior Celeste Patron spent her summer break researching cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration at the University of Virginia. Participating in the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program, Patron conducted a research project exploring the potential role of mitochondrial-endoplasmic reticulum connection morphology in the progression of aging and neurodegeneration. She used the hippocampal region from mice expressing Alzheimer’s genes to study what the mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) looked like in normal and accelerated aging conditions. Her research revealed a correlation between larger mitochondria and a longer mitochondria-ER distance with aging. She also observed that this process happened much earlier in Alzheimer’s mice than in normal aging conditions. After completing the eight-week program, Patron presented her work at a national symposium. She is currently in the process of applying to PhD programs in Clinical Neuropsychology.

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