My First Week in SURI Doing Summer Research


The Biotechnology students in the DNA club at the national undergraduate research conference in Washington DC

The biotechnology students (including me!) in the DNA club at the national undergraduate research conference in Washington DC

Hello! My name is Maria Sena and I am a biotechnology major at JCC.

Many people might not know that JCC offers a summer undergraduate research program known as SURI, or Science Undergraduate Research Initiative. It’s an amazing opportunity for students like myself who are majoring in the sciences and would like to get experience doing research. I am currently enrolled in SURI and have just finished my first week of research. What kind of research you ask? Well, let me tell you a little bit about my research project. I’m working on the cancer project that has been a major research topic since the biotechnology program began.

Yes, I did say cancer research.

Breast cancer tends to move to the bone, brain, or lung when it spreads, and when it enters the bone it’s very difficult to treat. What I am doing is taking cells from mouse bone marrow and exposing them to UV light to kill them. This simulates how cancer cells are treated with chemotherapy. We then study what proteins are produced by the cells that we killed with UV light to see why cancer cells tend to thrive in bone marrow.

Brittany VanDervroort

Brittany VanDervroort, also working on the cancer project at JCC

Personally, I never expected to be doing anything even close to this within my first year of college, but here I am doing research on cancer! Research can be incredibly frustrating when things go wrong and we get no results, but that’s part of the fun, too. Every day is an adventure, and I never know what’s going to happen! Hopefully this summer I will get results and be able to present my research at a national undergraduate research conference in September. I am very excited to see what happens in the coming weeks, and I will keep you up to date with my research and tell you a little bit about other projects as well!

About the author

Maria Sena

My name is Maria Sena, and I am a sophomore at the Jamestown Campus of JCC. I graduated from Chautauqua Lake Central School in the top 20% of my class, which made me eligible for the USA scholarship. I am majoring in biotechnology, and I absolutely love it! I chose JCC mainly because of the biotechnology program and all of the research opportunities that would be available to me as an undergraduate. I could not have made a better decision! Besides academics, I am a student ambassador on campus, and I give tours and participate in open houses. It has been a great way to learn about the campus and meet new people. I am also the president of the DNA Club, the biotech club on campus, which was an awesome way to get more involved in my major. My goal is to one day be a research scientist.