All posts by segolding

Matthew Hurd: Braunschweig – Germany

Matthew Hurd: Braunschweig – Germany

What were the primary factors that influenced your decision to study abroad?

I never thought Id be the kind of person who would study abroad. In fact, I never thought I would leave Richmond. I was becoming competent in the German language by practicing religiously on Skype with Germans I had met through a language exchange website. These Germans were all STEM students (a pharmacist, a mathematician, a chemist and a computer programmer). By learning about their experiences in Germany, I quickly became inspired by how the country has become a world leader in STEM education. I wanted to experience firsthand how the country operated and why it was so successful, so I decided to make an appointment with the study abroad office (GEO).  The rest is history.

What program and destination did you choose?

What manifested from this decision to meet with GEO was something I never expected. I ended up studying abroad in Braunschweig, Germany for ten months.  Technische Universität Braunschweig is an engineering and science university with a focus on practical, applied learning.

What classes did you take while abroad and how would you compare them to taking courses on campus at VCU?

I transferred back second semester Biochemistry, Ecological Biochemistry, and Plant Biochemistry. I also completed a Molecular Genetics laboratory course. The most challenging part was the lab work. German biology students are rather advanced in lab and analytical skills as their education focuses on intensive, hands-on approaches. I had to interact and write my tests and lab reports in German. It was extremely challenging at first because my German lacked the vocabulary to express scientific ideas, but I overcame this with the help of my German peers. As a result, my competency in the language skyrocketed.

Bachelor students in Braunschweig have an intensive curriculum. Their first year consists of biology, biochemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, plant and animal sciences, genetics and microbiology. This is all with a laboratory experience, too. They only have to do one or two electives for their whole degree! This is quite different from an American Bachelors education in which the focus is more on liberal arts and theory. I was way behind when I started, but I worked hard to gain these skills and competencies in the laboratory.

Additionally, I attended German language courses and lectures in fields such as genetics, geomicrobiology, physics for biologists, and environmental toxicology. I even studied Spanish and Swedish! I was happy to study here. I think the laboratory, analytic and practical education complimented VCUs theoretical approach. When I returned to VCU, I was able to take my new laboratory experience and use it in Dr. Wenheng Zhangs lab. 

What research did you participate in while abroad?

All biology students in Germany are required to do thesis work. In fact, the top German universities require such an experience for the acceptance into a Masters program, so many foreigners (like Americans) may be excluded. Thesis work entails much more than your own project. You are expected to work nine to five every day in the lab for three to five months.  Perhaps the most exciting part of my time in Germany was meeting a post-doc who invited me to do research for five months. Starting in May, I will work full-time in her lab assisting current research studies and undertaking my own research project. Her lab focuses on understanding and mapping specific pathways in the cell that are involved in the inflammatory response. Personally, I will research the cross-talk between Glucocorticoids and Interleukin-6 on the expression of a relatively unknown gene Redd1. Im extremely excited to improve my laboratory and research skills and to work in a collaborative environment. My advisor is a biochemist, more or less. We will be using molecular biology and biochemical approaches to answer our questions. Im thankful that I was able to take all the biochemistry and molecular biology and get the related lab experience for it in Braunschweig.

For you, what were the benefits of studying abroad?

I learned cross-cultural skills and experienced how another country operates, both culturally and academically.  I became even more proficient in German and had the chance to travel around Germany and other countries including Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden.  I experienced first-hand why Germany is an economic and scientific leader of the world. I dont know what is in store for my future, but I know my study abroad and international research experience will help me in graduate school or professional work.  I hope everyone reading this ignores your study abroad anxieties and make an appointment with the GEO office to discuss your possibilities.  You never know what will happen.

What would you say to a student who is considering studying abroad?

For prospective study abroad students, I have advice for you based of my own experiences. My time in Germany wasnt a cakewalk. I did have many set-backs and challenges.

  • Start your research early. Due dates for scholarships and applications are usually way in advance.
  • Work closely with your GEO and biology department advisor. Your GEO advisor will help you find programs and funding opportunities and help you navigate the logistics. Before you go make sure your prospective coursework will transfer back. Understand how your experience will affect your intended graduation date and discuss getting prerequisites done for classes you may take abroad.
  • Find a way to make your experience abroad work FOR you! Although I had a semester left at VCU, I found work in Dr. Zhangs lab. I was able to use my laboratory experience in genetics to assist in her lab. People with international experience stand out academically and professionally as well-rounded and motivated individuals.


National Scholarship General Information Sessions

National Scholarship General Information Sessions
The National Scholarship Office (NSO) will be holding two general information sessions on Friday, March 23, at 3p, and Tuesday, March 27, at 2p.Both sessions will be held in the Multipurpose Room (1303) at the Honors College (701 W. Grace Street). These general information sessions are designed for first- and second-year undergraduates and any students who are new to VCU. A variety of national and international scholarship opportunities will be discussed. Strategies for creating a competitive profile and application will also be covered in these sessions. Bring a friend(s). Students who are not able to attend either session are welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Meredith Sisson or Mr. Jeff Wing in the NSO. There is a link to schedule appointments on the NSO website.
Thanks for helping to publicize these information sessions to your students.

Jeff Wing
Fulbright Program Advisor
Director, National Scholarship Office
Assistant Dean, VCU Honors College
Virginia Commonwealth University
701 W. Grace Street, Room 1212
Box 843010
Richmond, Virginia 23284-3010
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Spit for Science recruiting undergrad research assistants for Fall 2018

Spit4Science is now accepting applications for the Fall 2018 undergraduate research team. I wondered if you all might be willing to spread the word about this opportunity? I’m attaching our informational flyer that also contains a link to the application.

VCU-wide research project
Goal: understand how genetic and environmental factors
come together to influence a variety of health-related outcomes
in the VCU undergraduate population

Be involved in recruitment, marketing, data collection and
analysis, and other research activities
Work in teams to develop research questions and analyze
Spit for Science data
Meet different faculty involved in the project

Application only
Three credits
A-F grading system
Students from all class levels and majors are
encouraged to apply

Questions? Please contact

Apply via 

Applications due by Monday, March 26 at 5:00 PM.


Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is now accepting applications for our 2018 Horticulture Research Internship.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is now accepting applications for our 2018 Horticulture Research Internship.

Job Description

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Horticulture Team is seeking an inquisitive, dynamic, hard-working and enthusiastic research intern who is excited about spending the summer learning the art and craft of horticulture while implementing and completing a plant-based research project. The intern will work in all Garden areas, assisting staff and volunteers with the challenging, hands-on tasks of managing and curating a wide variety of seasonal displays, garden areas, plant collections and departmental initiatives. When not scheduled to conduct research, the intern can expect to weed, rake, groom, prune, plant, mulch and haul debris in seasonal extremes and all weather conditions on a daily basis.


Research Tasks

  • Work with Director and Manager of Horticulture to execute a summer research project, designed to address a current challenge faced by the Horticulture Department (examples of past topics: water quality monitoring, integrated pest management resources and strategies, food crop production, medicinal plants and benthic macroinvertebrate population surveys)
  • Compile research into a user-friendly resource to share with the department, Garden and guests
  • Prepare and present a report of experience, procedures and findings to Garden staff and guests

Horticulture Tasks

  • Assist horticulturists in all areas of the Garden with wide variety of primary garden care tasks, including planting, mulching, grooming, watering, fertilizing, weeding, etc., using best horticulture practices in accordance with established Garden standards
  • Participate in routine group tasks such as leaf blowing walkways and string trimming weeds
  • Perform routine maintenance on Garden power tools and equipment such as filling gas cans, re-stringing trimmers, cleaning and sanitizing tools, and keeping equipment organized and tidy

To apply, please see the full 2018 Horticulture Research Intern job description and forward a resume and cover letter to George Cowart, Horticulture Manager, at

Would you mind pushing out or posting the following the attached job description?

For additional information, please visit the employment page of our website.

 Thank you so much,



 Laurel Matthew
Senior Horticulturist

804.262.9887, ext. 333 804.929.5857

1800 Lakeside Avenue
Richmond, VA 23228

VCU Post Baccalaurette Research Education Program (PREP)

The VCU Post-Baccalaureate Research Training Program (PREP) is a one-year biomedical research training program for recent college graduates from underrepresented groups considering graduate-level training in the biomedical sciences.  The program provides scholars with a year-long paid mentored research experience and the opportunity to develop technical and critical-thinking skills.  PREP scholars have the opportunity to take graduate-level courses and a GRE preparation course, as well as receive formal advice on the selection of graduate programs, preparation of graduate school applications, and preparation for graduate school interviews.

Eligible applicants must have graduated prior to program start on July 1. Students must be interested in pursuing a PhD .  Applicants must have graduated within 3 years of program start. Applicants must be US Citizens, permanent residents or non-citizen nationals with proof of citizenship status.

We Offer:

  • Mentored Research Experience
  • Formal advice on graduate applications
  • Salary of $27,000
  • Opportunity to present at National Scientific Conference

Application opens November 15, 2017-March 15, 2018

Apply online at:

For more information contact:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Center On Health Disparities
P.O. Box 980501
Richmond, Virginia 23298-0501

PREP flyer_2017-2018

2018 Call for Applications for VCU IMSD undergraduate research training program

Calling future Scientists!
Are you passionate about science, ready to immerse yourself in research, looking for a community of like-minded peers, craving career development opportunities and interested in pursuing graduate education?
The Center on Health Disparities is excited to request applications for:
The VCU Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) undergraduate research training program.
We are looking to recruit 10 eager young biomedical or behavioral researchers from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical sciences who are excited to engage in a research intensive curriculum and a long term biomedical or behavioral research experience.
More details about what the program has to offer can be found below.
The deadline for applications is: March 16th 2018
Prospective students can apply online here:
If you have any further questions about the program please contact myself
Dr. Sarah Golding, Director of the VCU Undergraduate IMSD program
For questions regarding the application process please contact.
Ms Khiana Meade
IMSD Program Coordinator
We look forward to reviewing your applications!

The VCU Initiative for Maximizing Student Development undergraduate program (IMSD-ugrad) provides research training in the Biomedical and Behavioral sciences for individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research.  IMSD is designed to prepare students to apply for PhD programs in the Biomedical or Behavioral Sciences. IMSD Scholars are typically admitted as rising sophomores or juniors and are involved in program activities through graduation. The program provides:

¨ Lab Skills “bootcamp”
¨ Up to 2 Full years of Mentored  Research!
      – 2 x 10 week (40 hr per week)  Summer Research Fellowships
      – 12 hr per week Semester Mentored Research
¨ Opportunity to travel to and present at a national scientific conference
¨ GRE preparation
¨ Career development counseling
¨ Community of like-minded peers
¨ Local and National Networking

 Program Specifics:
The VCU Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) research training program is hosted by the Center on Health Disparities (CoHD), VCU School of Medicine. IMSD is part of a federal initiative to increase the diversity of the future biomedical and behavioral workforce. Funding for this program comes from National Institute of General Medicine IMSD program

Applications for 2018 are open now and close on March 16th 2018. Apply online:

Successful applicants must have a strong desire to pursue a PhD in the Biomedical or Behavioral Sciences. Applicants must have at minimum 3 remaining semesters at VCU but are encouraged to apply as early as their freshman year. A GPA over 2.8 in major is preferred. Eligible applicants must be current full-time VCU undergraduate students, and must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or non-citizen nationals. Proof of citizenship status or resident status will be required. Applicants can be from any Science major (eg. BIOL, BNFO, BME, CHEM, CLSE, PSYCH).

Successful applications will be expected to participate in a 1 week “Molecular lab skills bootcamp” from May 14th-18th to prepare them for their laboratory experiences.  Students will receive help with securing a research mentor but are encouraged to start this process before being admitted (this will be seen as a positive!).

There are 4 key elements to our training program:
Intensive summer research program – IMSD scholars must dedicate 40 hours a week for 10 weeks (May 29th – Aug 3rd) in the summer to research. During the summer program scholars participate in an array of enrichment activities such as; seminars (on careers, research, graduate school), Discussions with professors, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows, and other research themed topics. Students must participate in the CoHD GRE preparation course.(offered in July). We provide a small amount of financial support for the IMSD summer research program. Scholars must arrange and pay for their own housing during this time. Scholars can participate in 2 consecutive summers of research via the IMSD program.

A llong-termmentored research experience – After the initial summer in a research lab, IMSD Scholars are expected to dedicate 10-12 hours of time to research during the semester in addition to their academic commitments.  We provide a small amount of financial support for this experience.

Research intensive curriculum – IMSD scholars will receive specialized advising to help  select research based

classes during your normal academic schedule to compliment the training we provide. We will help you select these within your specific discipline but strongly recommend BIOL392 Introduction to Research, and an honors thesis if possible.

Mentorship and Community – IMSD undergraduate is one of 4 research training programs in the CoHD family. We aim to act as mentors to your future, to help provide the additional support you need to make your dreams become reality. We hope to introduce you to a community of likeminded peers with whom you can form a network. We anticipate the friends and connections you make through IMSD and other CoHD research training programs will last a lifetime. In order to achieve this we require you to attend an array of enrichment activities offered via our research training colloquium (~3 hours a month). These meetings are typically 3-5 pm of Friday afternoons; we request that you schedule your classes/work around this time to maximize your ability to participate. Scholars are required to attend 75% of IMSD events.

We look forward to receiving your applications! Please email with any questions.

IMSD Undergrad FLYER 2018 FINAL







Call for Applications for the VCU IMSD research training program

Calling future researchers!
The Center on Health Disparities is excited to request applications for:
The VCU Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) research training program.
We are looking to recruit eager young biomedical researchers from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical sciences who are excited to engage in a research intensive curriculum and a long term biomedical research experience.
More details about what the program has to offer can be found on the attached flyer.
The deadline for applications is: March 15th 2017
If you have any further questions about the program please contact myself
Dr. Sarah Golding, Director of the VCU Undergraduate IMSD program
For questions regarding the application process please contact.
Ms Khiana Meade
IMSD Program Coordinator
We look forward to reviewing your applications!

Dr. Hamid Akbarali – VCU IMSD Principal Investigator
Dr. Joyce Lloyd – VCU IMSD Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Teraya Donaldson – VCU IMSD Graduate Program Director
Khiana Meade – IMSD Program Coordinator

Field help needed!!

This is a last minute request for field help. We can reimburse gas, but there is not money for a stipend. The field techs will be collecting vegetation data to be tied to woodpecker habitat as well as different management regimes (prescribed fire, timber harvest, etc).



Undergraduate research assistant positions with Dr. Joseph McClay

Dear STEM Advisors,
There are currently open undergraduate research assistant positions with Dr. Joseph McClay.  There is the option here for course credit while students conduct research.  Students can view the full description of the research projects at the link below, and also download the application there.  Please share with your students!  If they have questions, they can contact me directly.

Thanks to all,