The School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech recently finished its inaugural Summer Research Program, providing 18 Virginia Tech undergraduate students with 10 weeks of "hands-on, minds-on" research experience with faculty.

Students spent the summer working on research projects in neuroscience laboratories on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus and at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke. The program culminated with a poster presentation on Aug. 9 where students presented their research findings, giving them the opportunity to obtain valuable feedback from faculty and other researchers at Virginia Tech. 

Students were supported by fellowship endowments provided by Washington, D.C.-based law firm EngelNovitt PLLC and the estate of James and Lillian Gay. EngelNovitt is led by John Engel, a longtime supporter of the Virginia Tech College of Science, which the School of Neuroscience is a part of, and a member of the college’s Roundtable Advisory Board. James Gay was a Virginia Tech alumnus, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1935. He died in 2015 and was posthumously inducted into the college’s Hall of Distinction in 2016. Support money also came from the School of Neuroscience Undergraduate Fellowship fund.

“The goal was to gain experience by independently taking on experiments, experiencing first-hand how research can have its ups and downs,” said Harald Sontheimer, the I.D. Wilson Chair and professor of neuroscience, executive director of the School of Neuroscience, and director of the Center for Glial Biology in Health, Disease, and Cancer, located in Roanoke.

Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience junior Matthew Hyland (right) of Mechanicsville, Virginia, speaks with Harald Sontheimer, executive director of the school and the I.D. Wilson Chair and professor of neuroscience in the College of Science.

“EngelNovitt has maintained a longstanding commitment to actively supporting the College of Science, its pioneering research and novel degree programs that benefit Virginia Tech, its students, and the research community more broadly,” said John Engel, manager of EngelNovitt. “As soon as the School of Neuroscience and its neuroscience degree programs were announced, we wanted to broaden that support to include the EngelNovitt Undergraduate Research Fellowship to enable undergraduates to benefit even more directly in the advancement of the school’s mission by actively participating in its cutting-edge research in the lab.”

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