Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships

For nearly 10 years, Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) has helped students use what they learn in the classroom to launch successful research projects of their own.

At CURF, advisors assist students to apply for competitive national and international graduate fellowships and scholarships such as the Thouron Award and Marshall Scholarship. The Center is also the home of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars Program and the University Scholars Program.

In January, CURF announced that seven Penn students were chosen as 2011 Fulbright Award winners. Rachel Romeo, a 2011 graduate was among them. With a BA in Psychology & Linguistics, Romeo (also a Thouron Award winner) plans to attend University College London to continue her exploration of children's language acquisition. While at Penn she conducted significant psychological and linguistic research.

GJ Melendez-Torres, a Truman Scholar and University Scholar, who also graduated in May 2011 with a B.S. in economics in health-care management and policy from the Wharton School, and a B.S. from the School of Nursing also won a 2011 Marshall Scholarship. He plans to attend Oxford in the fall to pursue a M.Phil. in evidence-based social intervention, continuing research he first began at Penn through an independent studies program.

For Benjamin Franklin Scholar Spencer Glantz, the encouragement from CURF to engage in undergraduate research helped him land a job right out of college. Before his May 2011 graduation, Glantz accepted a job offer from a startup company working in the emerging field of synthetic biology. At Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, he conducted research on the promise of differentiation therapy to improve the treatment of leukemia.

And Tiffany John Lewis, who also graduated this year, says she stumbled upon CURF as a rising sophomore trying to figure out what to do over the summer of her freshman year. The Center helped her find a faculty mentor and tap research funds.

More than 1,300 students a year seek CURF support and guidance. Research recently featured on the CURF website includes Romeo’s Language-Guided Looking at CHOP’s Center for Childhood Communication; Method and Memory: The TRC Reconstructs the Soweto Uprising; Canine Heart Disease; and Owl Monkeys in Argentina.

Text by Jacquie Posey
Video by Kurtis Sensenig