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Eric HallAssociate Professor in Biology
Fogarty Life Science 235
Above: Undergraduate students participating in the SURF program.
Dr. Eric Hall has been involved with the RI-INBRE SURF program since it began in the summer of 2002. SURF, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, offers summer research opportunities to qualified undergraduate students who are considering careers in biomedical and biobehavioral research. Dr. Hall, who was first involved with SURF as a researcher advising SURF research assistants, now is the Principal Investigator for RIC’s entire RI-INBRE SURF program.
SURF students work as paid research assistants, assisting faculty with various types of laboratory and research studies, all funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH.) During the summer of 2013, thirty students participated in the SURF program, mentored by five faculty members.Sabrina Elgar, a senior in the Biology department, participated in the SURF program for two summers and has continued with these research activities through two academic years with Dr. Deborah Britt.
“One of the great things about the SURF program at RIC is that undergraduate and graduate students have a lot more influence, responsibility, and experience than they would at many other institutions,” said Sabrina, who plans to write her honors thesis based on the research she has done through the SURF program.
Both Sabrina and Dr. Hall agree that the SURF program is important to RIC and particularly vital to building a research community in the Biology department. Students who are doing research over the summer form friendships that last throughout the academic year. Additionally, students involved with research are more often on campus, creating more opportunities for community development.
SURF is designed to give students an idea of what real research is like and help them choose a career path. According to Dr. Hall, many of the students involved with SURF go on to medical school, dental school, or other graduate programs in the sciences.
Sabrina said that her participation in SURF helped her understand that while she enjoyed research, she would not want to do it exclusively in her future career. Thus, she hopes to go to Physicians’ Assistant (PA) School next fall and eventually be involved with research as a PA.
“The most successful aspect of the SURF program is when students like Sabrina take off, gain confidence, and succeed,” said Dr. Hall.