Recent Chapman grad Lindsey Zumwalt has huge aspirations with her biology degree—she hopes to publish a manuscript next year, apply to medical school, and eventually become a physician.

Former president of the American Medical Student Association, Zumwalt has a great amount of experience to carry with her in the pursuit of these goals. This includes Zumwalt’s participation in SURF – the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship – this past summer.

Overseen by the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, SURF is awarded to students who present themselves as promising research candidates. It is highly competitive, with applications consisting of a proposal, letter of support from a faculty advisor, and review by a panel.

Zumwalt and faculty mentor look to white board as they are working on research project together

Zumwalt working on research project with faculty mentor Dr. Ogba

“With the support of Dr. Maduka Ogba, I was encouraged to apply and saw (SURF) as an incredible opportunity to continue the research that I am so passionate about over the summer,” said Zumwalt. “The Center for Undergraduate Excellence has been very generous to make it possible for me to continue doing this research.”

As a SURF fellow, Zumwalt researched a protein that exists within a bacteria, and the ways in which it becomes oxidized.

“This mechanism is important because the oxidation is how the bacteria become attracted to inflammation and are better able to colonize and cause disease such as ulcers and cancer,” Zumwalt explained. “In order to prevent the disease, the way in which this bacteria colonizes must be discovered.”

Zumwalt heard about SURF from taking 491 faculty-student independent research courses, and was encouraged to do this research through SURF by Dr. O Maduka Ogba whose mentorship is something she will “be forever grateful for.” Even though the research was challenging at times, she expressed really enjoying her experience with SURF.

“Transition state calculations are extremely sensitive which means I tried numerous that failed,” said Zumwalt. “This challenge just forced me to think even more creatively, with the guidance of Dr. Ogba, to keep trying new things that eventually worked.”

Zumwalt, faculty mentor, and President Struppa

Dr. Ogba, President Struppa, and Zumwalt

By the end of SURF, Zumwalt had succeeded in making a complete reaction coordinate diagram for the HOCl-mediated oxidation. Now with her sights set on medical school, she aims to continue this work and hopefully get it published as well as present her findings at conferences.

When asked what she would recommend to students interested in incorporating research into their time at Chapman, Zumwalt said to apply for programs like SURF.

“It is an amazing opportunity for anyone involved in research at Chapman,” she said. “It provides dedicated time to progress any research project while classes are not in session.”

Are you interested in becoming a SURF fellow, or applying for scholarship and grant opportunities? Stop by the Center for Undergraduate Excellence or email us at!