Eleven Undergraduate Students Participate in Research Program at Einstein

Jul 19, 2010 — Eleven Yeshiva University undergraduate students are trading in time at the beach for a unique opportunity to conduct cutting-edge scientific research with top scholars at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The students are part of the overall 57 students from various colleges and universities attending the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at Einstein, directed by Dr. Victoria Freedman, assistant dean of biomedical studies.

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“All SURP students participate in group seminars and are assigned to work in a research laboratory at Einstein,” said Dr. Barry Potvin, professor of biology at YU and chairperson of the Roth Summer Research Fellowship Committee. The students work in teams alongside graduate and post-doctoral students, and their results are presented as a poster at the end of the annual ten-week program in August. “The aim of the SURP program is to provide each student with the opportunity to experience the many rewards and challenges of biomedical research,” Potvin said.

The 11 YU students are clustered into three programs. Eight students—Orli Haken, Tsipora Huisman, Hadassa Klerman, Jennifer Kraut and Danielle Lent of Stern College for Women and Yair Saperstein, Michael Siev and David Sweet of Yeshiva College—were awarded scholarships through the Roth Scholars Program, which is sponsored by the Ernst and Hedwig Roth Institute of Biomedical Science Education at YU. Two participants—Yeshiva College student Daniel Poliak and Stern student Rebecca Weiss—were selected for the University Summer Research Scholars Program, which is supported by funding from the Provost’s Office. One student—Stern’s Dina Golfeiz—is participating through the Stern Einstein Research Connection (SERC), a program created by Stern alumnae to provide funding for a Stern freshman or sophomore to perform scientific research during the summer. Each program provides students with a stipend and on-campus housing.

For Daniel Poliak of Hollywood, FL, the rewards of the program have been twofold. “I have learned how a sound understanding of basic science and biochemical mechanisms assists a clinician in studying pathology.” Poliak is studying, among other topics, how light and other biochemical signals are processed in the retina. “Thus advances in the lab can have profound effects in the clinic. But it has also been meaningful to me to work in Einstein, as my late grandfather served as a full-time faculty in the OB-GYN department for 23 years.” He added, “In my small, interactive cases, I have been taught the complexity of science.”

Chicago native David Sweet, who is conducting chromosome research, credited YU for providing him with the tools to continue his quest toward becoming a doctor. “YU’s chemistry department is extremely strong and full of wonderful teachers and mentors,” said Sweet. “My experiences through my classes and advisors have solidified my desire to pursue the sciences.”

Jennifer Kraut of Baltimore, MD, took a similar stance. “Being in a small liberal arts college has allowed me to forge close relationships with many of my professors.”