Henry Lo, a PhD candidate in computer science, is using big data to help doctors discover new cancer subtypes. Yuna Farah, a senior biology major, hopes to find out why some oysters develop colonies of bacteria that make humans sick. John Angell, a PhD candidate in biology, digs deep into salt marshes to learn about microbial communities. Lo, Farah, and Angell are three of the young researchers benefitting from Sanofi Genzyme Research Fellowships at UMass Boston.
Last year, Sanofi and its Cambridge-based biotechnology company, Genzyme, pledged $1 million toward student success programs in the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) at UMass Boston. Today, a total of 20 graduate and undergraduate Sanofi Genzyme Research Fellows, funded through the Sanofi Genzyme Fellowship program, are working on advanced research in life sciences in CSM.
Doctoral fellows receive $10,000 from Sanofi Genzyme funds, $10,000 in matching funding from extramural research grants, and full tuition and fee waivers. Undergraduate fellows are mentored one-on-one by faculty advisors. The labs hosting undergraduate fellows receive $1,500 per year to cover expenses associated with taking on additional researchers.
Jennifer Bowen, professor of biology at UMass Boston, is mentoring Farah, and Angell in her lab. She says that this type of funding will make a huge difference in her students’ educational and career opportunities.
“There are few avenues to funding for PhD students,” Bowen said. “This grant will allow John to focus on the research he wants to do. For undergraduates like Yuna, this will open the door to a lot of possibilities.”
Doctoral fellows are nominated by their mentors for the fellowship. Lo was nominated by his faculty mentor, Wei Ding. Lo echoed Bowen in his enthusiasm for the Sanofi Genzyme fellowship. He has used funds from the fellowship to buy graphics cards and other supplies for his research, and to attend a machine learning conference in Montreal.
“I’m grateful to get funding to do work that is interesting and meaningful to me,” Lo said.
Farah, who plans to attend medical school in the fall, sees this research grant as an important step in her career.
“I’ve known since high school that I wanted to do medicine,” Farah said, but while working in research at UMass Boston, “I’ve learned what I’m interested in, and learned to do lab techniques before learning them in class.”
Farah was involved in science research from her very first year of undergraduate education at UMass Boston. She was a part of a Freshman Success Community led by dean Andrew Grosovsky in the College of Science and Mathematics. Grosovsky says that UMass Boston is committed to ensuring that students have research opportunities at every level of their education.
“The Sanofi Genzyme Research Fellowships allow students to immerse themselves completely in their research, placing them in the best possible position to launch their careers,” Grosovsky said. “Undergraduate research is often a critical experience that many scientists remember as the opportunity that enabled them to begin their professional journey. We are very grateful to Sanofi Genzyme for the funds that enable us to provide more of these opportunities to the broadest possible population.”