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Discovery that Connects

From fundamental insights to better plants, sustainably grown, serving the world

PPPMB grads mentor NSURP students

-Magdalen Lindeberg

Summer research projects represent vital opportunities undergraduate students develop new skills, connecting with mentors and professional networks, and above all, learn more about the process of scientific research . BIPOC students (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are disproportionately under served and especially so this past summer due to COVID-19 related campus and lab closures.

The 2020 National Summer Undergraduate Research Project (NSURP) was initiated to connect BIPOC undergraduate students with mentors in the microbial sciences who could provide students with remote-work summer research projects. Zoe Dubrow, graduate student in the field of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, recruited four mentors in the PPPMB Section to work with students Carlo Castillo, Leticia Zikpi, Rafael Estrada, and Cristian Reyes. Castillo and Reyes received awards for their final presentations.


man in glasses and suitCristian Sanlatte Reyes, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, Industrial Microbiology

Mentor: Tyler Helmann, Paul Stodghill and Melanie Filiatrault. Cornell University, USDA-ARS.

Bio: I’m a senior student majoring in Industrial Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus, with an interest in plant-microbe-environment interactions. I am currently working with Dr. Carlos Ríos-Velázquez in the Microbial Biotechnology and Bioprospecting Laboratory searching for microbes that degrade analgesics through functional metagenomics. I aspire to pursue a PhD in Molecular Microbial Ecology to study plant-microbe interactions and adaptations towards unfavorable environmental conditions.


woman in plaid jacketLeticia Zikpi, University at Albany, Human Biology Major

Mentor: Zoë Dubrow, Bogdanove Lab, Cornell University

Bio: Leticia K Zikpi is a student at the University at Albany in New York where she studies Human Biology. Her biggest dream is to be a pediatrician and be of service to kids who need medical attention, especially in Africa. She is very passionate about helping others in whatever ways she can. She likes to read, watch crime-solving shows and medical shows, dance, and hang out with her friends. Family means a lot to her and she hopes to have a beautiful family herself one day.


man stnading in front of advertisementRafael Estrada, Science and mathematics/ Biotechnology

Mentor: Greg Vogel, Chris Smart, Cornell University

Bio: I am a person who works hard in school and applying for internships. I  started speaking when I was 10 years old and have had trouble throughout my education, but have prospered with hard work. I don’t give up when I get rejected to programs. I like going to rock concerts, working out, and working at labs.


man in suit in front of arched doorCarlo Castillo, CALS, Biological Sciences

Mentor: Breanne Kisselstein, David Gadoury, Cornell University

Carlo Castillo is a rising junior at Cornell University majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior, pursuing minors in Business, Infectious Disease Biology and Fungal Biology. He has interned in Tourette Syndrome research at Harvard Medical School and has had various shadowships at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He hopes to continue to medical school upon graduation.

Read more about NSURP

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