Many people spend their lives actively trying to avoid cancer. Not cancer researchers, though! Emily Cauble (‘19) is a Biological Sciences major who spent her summer as a SURF Fellow studying prostate field cancerization with Dr. Marco Biscoffi.

This line of research involves looking at the molecular make up of cells around prostate cancer and comparing them to normal prostate cells. Cauble is searching for any differences to aid in prevention and diagnosis of prostate cancer. If she and other researchers can find a common mutation, the process of diagnosis and subsequent treatment would be much easier for both doctors and patients.


Cauble got involved in research at Chapman by sending a blind email asking to be on Dr. Biscoffi’s cancer research team. She had heard that no one ever gets responses from blind emails, but Dr. Biscoffi agreed to meet with her, and ended up taking her on his team. Now Cauble leads her own small team and projects.

One of Cauble’s favorite aspects of the SURF program was working with Dr. Biscoffi. They moved their experiment to the new Keck Science Center over the summer, which posed its challenges and required strong communication on both their parts, but they made it through. She “feels lucky she got a faculty mentor that is so nice and understanding.”

SURF allowed Cauble to become familiar with the practical applications of her classwork. “Particularly as a STEM major,” she says, “I think we get really wrapped up in book work. Read this, memorize this, now take a test on it, do this. But I think doing research over the summer and learning about these cases, I get to go beyond this as ‘oh, little DNA in a tube.’ No, this was somebody. I think it’s prepared me for that, and for medicine as well. These are real people, this isn’t just about what I want to do with my life. It’s about how I can help others.”

The best advice Cauble has for getting into research is to “be brave and be confident. Don’t shy away or be intimidated. If you want something, go after it. Don’t just sit there and hope that it happens – go make it happen.”

Are you curious about the research scene here at Chapman University and would like to be participate in SURF this summer? Get more SURF information on our website. The deadline to apply is quickly approaching.  Be sure to follow and like the Center for Undergraduate Excellence on Facebook and never miss an opportunity to take your education to the next level!