curf - Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships



Undergraduate Advisory Board

The CURF Undergraduate Advisory Board is a diverse group of students intended to enhance communication and awareness of the opportunities that CURF provides to the Penn student body. The board aims to reach out to the student community through various events and research fairs, promoting CURF and its programs. By working with students, faculty, and alumni, their goal is to promote the research interests of the student body and also connect students with research opportunities in their given fields.

Winona Wu


COL ’14: Molecular Biology

My research interests fall within the fields of cancer cell biology and immunology. Currently, I am conducting research with Dr. Warren Pear at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, studying the role of the TRIB1:MALTI interaction both in NF-B signaling and in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Previously, I have conducted research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where I worked on a project examining the mechanisms of directed secretion of natural killer (NK) cell lytic granules at the NK cell immunological synapse.

Amy Le


COL/WH ’14: Biology, Healthcare Management, Minor: Chemistry

My research interests lies in the biological sciences and healthcare management. This past summer I did research on the preventative effects of natural compounds like kava on bladder and prostate cancer. Previously, I was a research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab.

Gerald Parloiu

Vice Chair

COL/WH ’15: International Studies, Business

I come from Romania and I am a junior in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, a interdisciplinary program established between the College of Arts & Sciences and Wharton. I am targeting Portuguese and spent part of my summer taking Portuguese courses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am a research assistant for the Lauder Institute, where I work on difference research projects in the areas of business and economics.

Brian Collopy

COL ’14: Economics, Mathematics; Candidate for an M.A. in Mathematics

My research interests lie in economics and public policy. This summer I am interning for the White House Council of Economic Advisers. I have been a research assistant for Professor Mark Duggan, studying the effects of perverse incentives in the pharmaceutical industry, and the effects of government interventions intended to remedy the problem. I have also been a research assistant for Professor Todd, studying randomized experiments used to evaluate the effects of lower-poverty housing on single mothers and their children, and evaluating programs intended to help women in developing countries become employed.

Yessenia Gutierrez

COL ’14: Biology, Latin American Studies

My research interests include the biological sciences and Latin American to U.S. migration and the way these immigrants craft communities and develop a sense of belonging in their new home. I am in Penn’s Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism Program, through which I am working on my thesis for my Latin American and Latino Studies double major. I have also worked as a research assistant in Penn’s Microbiology Department for the past two years.

Shams Haidari

COL ’16: Undeclared

I am interested in the political development of the Middle East. Previously, I have interned for the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, where I researched international security.

Cole Korponay

COL ’14: Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience

My research interest is in connecting the layers of biological complexity, from genes to neurons to brain systems, to gain a comprehensive understanding of human behavior and of why we experience reality the way that we do. Previously, I have conducted research at New York University on DNA Nanotechnology which was honored as a semi-finalist in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search competition. For the past two years I have interned at the psychiatry department of North Shore -Long Island Jewish Hospital, working to improve knowledge on disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In the upcoming academic year, I will begin work on a project aimed at answering how neurogenesis in the hippocampus might give us our sense of time.

Sheryl Li


My research interest lies in social sciences. Currently, I’m working on independent research as a University Scholar regarding the globalization of Korean pop culture. I’m studying the presence of the Korean Wave in China. Previously, I’ve also conducted research in the area of renewable energy, experimenting with methods to enhance lipid production in algae for biofuels. I hope I can be helpful to new students getting involved in research at Penn for the first time.

Dee Luo

COL’16: Biological Basis of Behavior

My research interests are in neuroscience, biology, and healthcare management. Freshman year, I worked in a biology lab to investigate the effects of specific genes on bristle cell growth. We used drosophilia as our model and RNAi techniques to determine which genes controlled bristle length. I am currently an assistant to Wharton professors researching organizational behavior in the workplace.

Meggie McCarthy-Alfano

COL ’14: Health & Societies

My research interests span multiple health-related fields, including patient-centered outcomes research, medical sociology, psychology, and medical anthropology. As a PURM participant, I conducted outcomes research in the Department of Surgery at HUP. I spent my junior year in Dr. Ruscio’s Depression, Anxiety, and Emotion Lab, assisting in an fMRI study of the neural correlates of anxiety and depression. This year, for my senior thesis, I am examining parents’ treatment decisions for their children with autism spectrum disorders in affiliation with the Center for Autism Research and the Department of Anthropology. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about getting involved in research!

Vicky Ro

COL ’16: Molecular Biology

My research interest lies in Biology. Currently I am researching the functional interaction between the circadian clock and thermogenic pathways in brown adipose tissue. Previously, I researched the effect of chelators on the efficiency of phytoremediation. I have also researched the bacterial cause of a deadly gastrointestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis, which largely affects premature infants.

Mary Sun

COL/WH ’16: Computational Biology & Computer Science, Economics

My research interests lie in healthcare innovation and technology enterprise. For two years, I conducted an independent epidemiology study that analyzed gender-based social influences on depression. At Penn, I am currently involved in policy analysis with the Wharton Public Policy Initiative and clinical research at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Externally, I am involved in a national data-mining project.

Josh Tycko

COL ’14: Biological Mathematics

Currently, my primary interests are the biomedical applications of our ever-expanding understanding of genetic systems. At Penn’s Gene Therapy Program, I am using a mouse model to develop a novel prophylaxis for respiratory syncytial virus, with adeno-associated viral vectors. I am also a member of Penn’s International Genetically Engineered Machines (IGEM) team. We are developing methods to induce sequence-specific methylation to silence oncogenes. Message me if you’re curious about how to get started in undergraduate research at Penn!

Amy Wu

ENG/WH ’14: Material Science Engineering, Finance

My research interests lie primarily in Materials Science Engineering and Chemistry, with a focus in nanotechnology. Thanks to the Vagelos Grant and Robert E. Holtz Grant, I was able to study solar cells and transistors with one of the world’s leading nanosynthesis researchers, Dr. Christopher Murray. With the Murray Lab, I analyzed best fabrication techniques for Cadmium Selenide and related semiconductor materials in order to make the most efficient solar cells and also assisted in publishing research articles for graduate student Danielle Reifsnyder. I am also a past recipient of the PURM grant, which allowed me to initiate my own research project in the field that was presented at multiple research fairs.

Nikolai Zapertov

COL ’14: Biological Basis of Behavior

I have been involved in lab research for the past three years, concentrating on repairing spinal cord injuries with the use of stem cell therapy over the last two summers. At Penn, I spend my time in the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology assisting the Frank lab on studies regarding sleep and synaptic plasticity. I hope to pursue a PhD after graduation in Neurobiology, and would like to better bridge the gap between new findings in the field with how they are applied to the legal field.

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