ASM Undergraduate Research Capstone Program Testimonials

Comments from previous participants:

"I really valued meeting other undergraduates (as well as full professionals) at the Capstone Institute. We connected well and met up with each other throughout the conference. We have even kept in contact since then, and I know that we will be able to call on each other for years to come. I also appreciated that the Capstone Institute helped prepare us for our presentations and for meeting others at the conference. I felt much less nervous about navigating the conference because of this."

"The knowledge/techniques I acquired from the grant writing and networking sessions are invaluable additions to my skill sets. Also, I enjoyed listening and giving constructive feedbacks/criticisms to the undergraduate fellows during the poster-presentation session."

"In comparison to my previous ASM meeting, I felt more comfortable talking to other students, professors and board members. I think the Capstone Institute helped apply my networking and presentation skills easier because the concepts were fresh in my mind."

"The Capstone Institute provided a forum to network with my peers and to connect with professors and graduate students."

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ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship Testimonials

Articles about past URF Fellows:

Excerpt from the article Penn State student selected as Gates Cambridge Scholar

Penn State senior Christopher Rae has been selected to receive a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a highly sought-after program that allows students from around the world to pursue graduate work at the University of Cambridge.

Rae has worked for two years in the lab of professor Ken Keiler conducting experiments to identify new antibiotics to treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Rae met Keiler as a student in one of his introductory to microbiology labs and was invited to work in Keiler’s lab. Since then, Rae has produced work that helped secure a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, and last summer he was one of a handful of U.S students to receive an American Society for Microbiology (ASM) undergraduate research fellowship, which gives students funding to do research at their home institution. 

Excerpt from the article Food science student receives prestigious undergraduate research award

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected Ariel Buehler, a food science and technology senior in the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, to receive a 2013 ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Buehler is also a member of the 2010 class of Haslam Scholars at the university.

The ASM student research fellowship is awarded to highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers in microbiology. Fellows have the opportunity to conduct full time research at their institution with an ASM mentor.

Excerpt from article Rhodes College student conducts research at St. Jude

Memphian and Rhodes College rising junior Tina Dao is participating in the 2013 Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF) Program presented by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

Dao is conducting research with Michael Johnson, Ph.D. and Jason Rosch, Ph.D. in the Infectious Diseases Department of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a minimum of 10 weeks. 
Her research project examines the role of the copper efflux pump and the mechanism of copper-mediated toxicity in Streptococcus pyogenes, which cause strep throat, pneumonia, bacteremia, scarlet fever, pharyngitis, and flesh eating diseases. 

Comments from previous Fellows about the URF program:

“My undergraduate research has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I have gained more scientific knowledge and learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. It has shaped who I am as a scientist and what my goals are in the future.”

“I think getting your hands dirty in the lab is the best thing you could possibly do as an undergraduate. I can't see myself doing anything else. It's why I want to get a research associate job for a year or two after undergraduate‐‐I love research science, and I want to commit myself completely before I go back to school. I want to be the absolute best scientist I can be. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I think I will look back on it as instrumental in my professional development.”

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Watkins Testimonials

Interviews with current/past Watkins Fellows:

Jordan Mar | Watkins Fellow 2012-2015

Jordan Mar received his B.S. in microbiology at UC Davis. Following his undergrad, Mar spent two years as a research associate for Adam Arkin at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he studied the biology of ethanol producing bacteria in the context of biofuel production. Currently, he is wrapping up his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at UCSF. Mar's thesis research is being conduct under the guidance of ASM member, Susan Lynch and focuses on the connection between the gastrointestinal microbiome and host immune regulation. He hopes to pursue a research career in industry investigating medically relevant topics. 

What would you say to those considering applying for the Fellowship?
DO IT!! The ASM Fellowship is a great opportunity! Attending the ASM general meeting every year not only helps you grow as a scientist through exposure to all types of research, but it also is a great venue for career development. ASM is really pushing a lot of new career development programs that alternative fellowships simply don't offer. Plus, the education board at ASM is really proactive. They listen to the needs of graduate students and really try to help them succeed in any way they can. 

What is the most valuable aspect of the Watkins Fellowship? Attending the ASM general meeting. As a fellow, you get access to all types of additional programs... particular ones related to career development.

Sophonie Jean | Watkins Fellow 2011-2014

JeanSophonie Jean received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the University of Richmond. She is receiving her PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Biology, Integrative Life Sciences Program where she studies outer-membrane transporters in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and their role in nutrient acquisition and virulence. Jean is very much interested in the intersection of microbiology research and public health and hopes to pursue a career either in clinical/diagnostic microbiology or surveillance/management of disease outbreaks.

What would you say to those considering applying for the Fellowship?
I would definitely encourage students to apply for the Fellowship! There really is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even if you are not awarded the fellowship on your first try, the experience of completing the application process will only make you more competitive for future application cycles.

What is the most valuable aspect of the Watkins Fellowship?
In addition to the considerable financial support, I have found the most valuable aspect of the Watkins Fellowship to be the incredible access to the ASM Education and Post-doctoral Committee network. Watkins fellows have the opportunity to meet with renowned scientists in smaller gatherings at the General Meeting and at workshops like the Kadner Institute and Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute.

If you are a past Watkins Fellow and would like to be interviewed, please contact Leah Gibbons ( 

Comments from past Watkins Fellows:

"This is an extremely valuable program that enriches the Graduate training experience. It allows freedom to explore new research avenues through experimentation as well as travel and presentation/networking opportunities at National conferences for the candidates."

"Being a Watkins Fellow has been by far the most important career building opportunity I've had as a graduate student. I've been able to meet and network with current and former fellows across the country, had the opportunity to participate in the Kadner Institute, and volunteer at ABRCMS. The staff at ASM has been more than helpful with anything I've ever needed. It sounds cliche, but I feel like I've become a member of the ASM family by being a Watkins Fellow. Thank you."

"The ASM Educational Board does an excellent job of supporting, mentoring, and preparing young scientists. This has been my longest lasting and most profitable association. Thank you very much for all the wonderful programs you offer."

Return to Watkins Fellowship Homepage