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In collaboration with City of Hope, we are happy to announce a City of Hope Career Excursion on September 19th, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to  1:30 p.m. Join us in touring City of Hope to learn about the undergraduate summer research programs, graduate school programs, and the positive impact that their research is having in the medical field. Spots are limited! You can sign-up for the tour on Handshake >>

City of Hope’s Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy, an inquiry-based biomedical research for undergraduates, is a fantastic opportunity for our talented students to connect with world-renowned physicians and scientists. This past summer, during the 10-week full-time summer internship, our Schmid students attended seminars, workshops, collaborated with researchers, and had the opportunity to present their research findings to their peers.

Meet the Students

alejandro espinoza headshotAlejandro Espinoza is a senior biochemistry major with a minor in biophysics. He is currently the treasurer of the American Chemical Society Chapter at Chapman and a member of the Schmid Student Leadership Council. Alejandro plan to attend graduate school following graduation and used his experience to explore graduate programs at City of Hope. 




tori ericksonTori Erickson is a sophomore biology major with an anticipated nutrition minor. Last year, Tori was involved in research at Chapman’s Brain Institute studying about human cognition and the neuroscience of free will. This year, she accepted a volunteer position at St. Josephs Hospital of Orange to work with genetic counselors on a weekly basis to work towards her anticipated career in that field. Tori is also involved in the Schmid Student Leadership Council, as well as promoting student involvement with her position as a Student Scholar Ambassador



sarah nunesSarah Nunes is a sophomore biology major, currently on the pre-med track, who is looking towards a career in medicine. However, she finds all aspects of biology intriguing and is open to exploring different fields to find the right path for her. She also is on the women’s volleyball team here at Chapman and recently joined the Schmid Student Leadership Council.





During the summer, these students reported back to us to share what research they were working on and how they were enjoying the experience.

Here are their responses: 

Q: What research are you working on?

AE: “My current research experience is at the Beckman Research Institute (BRI) at City of Hope in Duarte, California though the Roberts Student Summer Academy. Within BRI I am in Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute researching the metabolic effects of bariatric surgery with my principal investigator Wendong Huang, Ph D. The project I am working on with the guidance of my mentors, Zhipang Fang, Ph D. and Lihua Jin, Ph D. is “Purification CYP8B1 for novel drug screening replacement for Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy”. Along with this project, I am learning about mice models and their role in comparative medicine and metabolic studies with Rose Tu, Ph D. and Yanjun Liu.”

TE: “I am working on developing a prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine to fight against Epstein Barr virus and its affiliated malignancies by creating a vaccine that will trigger the production of virus-like particles in vivo to trigger the bodies cellular and humoral immune responses. I am working with Dr. Ogembo at City of Hope on this project.”

SN: “I am personally working with Dr. Sophia Wang as my mentor in the field of epidemiology. I am working on my own research project for the summer investigating data from the California Teacher’s study cohort. Particularly, I am analyzing the role of different factors that may be associated with elevated biomarkers which may lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is being researched as an increased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other illnesses.”

Q: What have you learned from this experience? What surprised you about your experience?

AE: “What I’ve learned about biomedical research is its about 50% researching scientific papers, 15% hands-on work, 20% interpreting data and problem diagnostics and 15% writing papers, grants, presentations, etc. The amount of time at a computer learning protocols and researching papers was something I was not expecting when I first started. I would say the most important lessons and ideas learned were time management, communication, and respect for the animals that are used in biomedical research.”

TE: “I have learned that laboratory work in the clinical research field incorporated a lot of trial and error and you must be willing to keep working until you surpass any bump in the road. Most experiments will fail the first time but that knowledge is just as valuable as the knowledge provided by a successful experiment. What surprised me is how prepared I was going into clinical research at a professional institute after just 2 semesters of lab at Chapman.”

SN: “I have already learned so much from the few weeks I have spent here. I am learning all about the risk factors for cancer on a populational scale and the details of immunology and the role it plays in cancer development. It is very interesting coming from an interest in medicine to the study of epidemiology because of how much of a broader scope it covers.”

Q: What advice do you have to offer Schmid students who are looking to apply to City of Hope?

AE: “I’ve known about Summer Academy for a while but thought that I wasn’t the type of students that the program was looking for. I was encouraged to apply to the program when the City of Hope’s graduate school spoke at a spring networking event. My advice to anyone who is thinking of doing biomedical research through the Roberts Summer Academy is to just apply. 

TE: “Be very honest and passionate in your application and you will find the right program at COH for you. COH is very willing to help you learn as long as you act professional and respectful while showing your love for science.”

SN: “I would tell them to do some research on all the different research projects going on here and see if anything particular sounds intriguing. I would also tell them to consider where they live as a factor in applying but not to let it hold them back because it is an amazing opportunity and ultimately there is a stipend for living expenses.”


Cover photo: Alejandro Espinoza with his mentor at City of Hope.