Summer Research Experiences

One of the questions that I am asked most is “how do I get a paid summer internship?”
Most undergraduates understand the benefit of these programs yet do not know how/where to start. So I am going to post a few leads here for people that are interested.
1) Many schools including Johns Hopkins, Harvard, MIT, Baylor College of Medicine, Notre Dame, and other research universities have summer research experiences.

2) Typical deadlines for summer research programs are in December but some take applications till February.

3) I recommend that the students should visit the websites of local universities as many have programs. Also if they know which part of the country/world where they want to spend the summer a quick google search for “summer research” and the school name and will get a list of programs that the school offers.

4) The programs are competitive so I suggest that students apply to several so as to increase their chances. Students should try to go somewhere where they will get a good mentor who can help them with references in addition to providing the training to become a better researcher and scientist.

5) Here are other programs that pay for summer research for undergraduates. Some are less competitive than others and this list is far from exhaustive


Dakotas .
NIH programs
Cold Spring Harbor program
Other government programs:!

NSF link for REUs
Additional programs in Houston as follows:

Computational Cancer Biology Summer Program

Breast Self Exams: to do or not to do?

In 2002 a comprehensive 10 year study of Chinese factory workers to determine if knowledge of breast self exam (BSE) affected breast cancer mortality was published. This epidemiological study is cited as why BSE is no longer recommended. Unanswered questions include can the results of this study be generalized to different ethnicities, cultures, health systems and nationalities? Also prior to instruction 13.3% of control group (not BSE instructed) had practiced BSE in the past year. According to the authors: “Furthermore, a high proportion of women in the instruction group reported that they had found their breast cancer as a result of practicing BSE, and they sought medical attention after detecting their tumor in somewhat less time than did women in the control group”… Here is a copy of the 2002 paper.

The revolution is being televised?

The past few years has seen revolutions and uprisings all over the globe. From Cairo to Baltimore people are rising and rioting, in reaction to a trigger of some kind, police brutality, oppression by leaders. People are reacting! The 99% marched in reaction to the status quo. But then what? What has changed? What has improved? Revolutions cannot be sustained if they are reactionary, they have to be nurtured and purposeful. They have to be driven by goals and these specific objectives must be focused and deliberate otherwise after the fires stop burning, if they do, the resulting anarchy is often worse than what was displaced.  Sadly all over the globe folks are relearning this.  But then should people just sit and do nothing? Of course not, because if they do nothing the rage just simmers and grows and the riots are simply postponed. Ideally we would address the root causes of the problems and find solutions. Solutions that recognize that human lives are more important than property and $$$. But getting there will be difficult if we wait for elected leaders. Many of these elected leaders are too privileged to relate to the poor or even the middle class. They are clueless about the needs of the people they should serve and cannot comprehend the effect of their words. So in addition to marching, shouting and praying, register to vote. Field your own candidates that will change the status quo. Think before you act.  Remember if all you do is burn your own neighborhood, 20 years from now it may still stay burned. And no one will give a damn until the burning starts again.

Paranoid Helicopter Parents.

It’s funny watching helicopter parents with their kids, you know the mom or dad that always holds on so tight to their children they never figure out how to explore for themselves. It stops being funny when they want to impose their irrational fears on others. The nosey helicopter parents call the cops when a neighbor’s 5ft 3 twelve year old is walking home from school by himself and trigger a child neglect investigation. The annoying neighbor who calls 911 when a 6 year old is riding her bike by herself in the driveway of her house, while her mom is watching from the kitchen not sitting next to the kid. Just because a helicopter does not allow her kids to ride the bus or cross the road does not mean that she has the right to use the police to harass her neighbors. OK helicopters claim to have good intentions but let’s remind them that “the road to hell is paved in good intentions.” Of course bad things may happen but living in constant fear and crippling kids with unfounded paranoia does not help them.  Life is too short to spend living in fear and kids should be allowed to learn how to assess risks in age appropriate ways.  So if you’re a helicopter parent and you are getting outraged by your neighbor who is so relaxed and letting his kids run free, take a deep breath, enjoy the scenery and go over and say hi.  Be neighborly before judging out of context. Use your brain and don’t be ruled by irrational fears. Also remember the police have real emergencies to deal with, a healthy kid walking home from school on a beautiful day is not an emergency. If you think it is please examine yourself seriously as you may need some help.

First Female Governor in Nigeria?

The people of Taraba state may have elected a female governor this weekend. Still waiting to see if INEC ratifies the elections but I’ll jump the gun anyways and say congratulations to Governor- Elect Hajia Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan. The Nigerian blogs are on fire because many Nigerians are excited to finally have an elected female governor? For those who don’t know, Taraba state is in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, bordered by Plateau and Benue State on the West and on the east by Cameroon. Taraba state is also one of the states where Boko Haram has been active. It is fitting that the people of Taraba state by electing a female governor gave an electoral middle-finger to and shut up Boko Haram as well as those who through their stereotypes and ignorance minimize the roles of women.   Potential governor-elect Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan is not a political novice riding the coat-tails of a father or a husband, she is a former senator and a lawyer. She has a history of reaching across religious lines which is important in Nigeria.


Some Nigerian men have been posting stupid nonsense about “tokenism.” Curiously, many of these men are from the southern part of Nigeria and likely do not know anything about potential Governor-elect Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan or Taraba state. They do not understand how the people of Taraba state could potentially elect the most qualified candidate. In their evaluation  a woman could never be the most qualified candidate. These good educated men continue to create barriers for women in Nigeria hiding behind their words and spewing misinformation, and sexism.  But this is a time for celebration and there is work to be done. The people of Taraba state spoke out loud and clearly.  Even if the INEC ratified data shows that she lost, Taraba state still won as a woman competed fairly. Congratulations to them. Hopefully the rest of the nation can catch up soon.

Governor Elect of Taraba state

Potential Governor Elect of Taraba state

Along party lines

If you are deathly sick and need major surgery do you ask your doctor for his or her political affiliation? Common sense dictates that you chose the most qualified surgeon that you can afford. What if your car or house needs extensive repairs, do you choose an incompetent contractor because he or she shares your religious or political beliefs? So why do we continue to elect idiots by voting  along party lines? Why are we electing incompetent sheriffs, school board members, land commissioners, tax assessors, etc based on their political parties? A treasurer should have the ability to do the job and at the primaries does it matter how many guns he or she owns? How dare we empower illiterate  people who have demonstrated clearly through their utterances that they have no clue about history, education or even basic mathematics with the power to determine educational curriculum? Folks we need to stop electing idiots. People complain about problems but do not take the time to vote at the local level. Some of these elections are determined by less than 100 votes. Apathy is not the answer nor is voting along party lines, do your homework and prevent the continued erosion of the collective intelligence of the next generation. Let’s stop electing idiots and choose the best candidates for each task.

Know your rights, get out to vote:

Put your $$ forward

So here I am sitting through another talk listening to studies about tropical diseases good science from all the world including some impressive science from the continent. I will not say much about the scientists but let’s get to the funders. It is interesting that in almost every nation from small islands to big subcontinents, rich people set up institutes and foundations to do good research. Conspicuously absent from the list of donors are billionaires from the country with a third of most of the NTDs. I would like to say, put your $$ forward, but I guess to each their own.