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2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Newcomb Hall Ballroom

The Undergraduate Research Symposium is a chance for undergraduates to present what they have learned through their research experiences to a larger audience. The Symposium also provides a forum for students, faculty, and the community to discuss cutting edge research topics and to examine the connection between research and education. The Symposium includes poster and oral presentation sessions by students from all academic disciplines.

All UVA undergraduates involved in research are encouraged to apply using the Abstract Submission Portal and those not yet involved in research will discover that attending the Symposium is a great way to learn about the broad range of opportunities available at the UVA. The Symposium includes projects from all disciplines and encourages interdisciplinary discourse, allowing students to learn from each other about a broad range of exciting research topics. To help participants prepare, the OUR conducts Symposium abstract writing, poster design and PowerPoint presentation workshops. More information on the workshops can be found on the OUR Workshop Series.Participant abstracts are published in the Symposium Proceedings, and students can include their presentations on resumes and graduate school applications.

Volunteers Needed: Volunteers will be needed to help assist with the symposium and ensure that events run smoothly. The Symposium will be held in Newcomb Hall Ballroom on April 9, 2019 from 9:30AM to 4:30PM with an awards ceremony and reception from 4:30PM to 6:00PM. There will be free food provided for volunteers.

Sign up to become a volunteer here!

David Vago: Mapping the Meditative Mind: From Clinical Outcomes to Unified Compassion

When: Friday, April 12 3:00-4:30pm

Location: Nau Hall, Room 101

Free and open to the public

What does a flourishing mind look like from a neurological, psychological, and social perspective? Neuroscientist David Vago will explore this question and discuss his initiative Mapping the Meditative Mind. The emerging field of contemplative neuroscience aims to better understand the body-brain-mind changes associated with mental training. Vago will present models underlying specific meditative practices, the underlying neurobiological and psychosocial processes supporting those practices, and data from his lab and others in support of short- and long-term changes—from clinical outcomes to unified compassion. Vago is research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

REU – Research Experiences for Undergraduates  (REU)

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program. This solicitation features two mechanisms for support of student research: (1) REU Sites are based on independent proposals to initiate and conduct projects that engage a number of students in research. REU Sites may be based in a single discipline or academic department or may offer interdisciplinary or multi-department research opportunities with a coherent intellectual theme. Proposals with an international dimension are welcome. (2) REU Supplements may be included as a component of proposals for new or renewal NSF grants or cooperative agreements or may be requested for ongoing NSF-funded research projects.

Undergraduate student participants in either REU Sites or REU Supplements must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States.

Students do not apply to NSF to participate in REU activities. Students apply directly to REU Sites or to NSF-funded investigators who receive REU Supplements. To identify appropriate REU Sites, students should consult the directory of active REU Sites on the Web at

Research opportunity at Owens Lab (Cardiovascular Research Center)

Gary K. Owens, PhD Director of Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia

Recent Nature Medicine studies from our lab have shown that smooth muscle cells (SMC) play a much greater role in atherosclerotic lesion pathogenesis than generally appreciated. Contrary to dogma, phenotypic changes in these cells can be beneficial or detrimental for plaque stability depending on the nature of these changes. Of relevance, we demonstrated that approximately 1/3 of lesion cells previously identified as macrophages are of SMC, not myeloid origin. However, the functions of these SMC-derived macrophage-like cells are very poorly understood and it is unclear if they are produced under normal or additional pathological conditions. Since atherosclerosis happens well beyond our reproductive ages, we hypothesized these transitions also occur at baseline in normal mice and play a protective role that is likely to be evolutionarily conserved. To test this hypothesis, we performed flow cytometric evaluations of transitions of SMC to a macrophage-like state within various microvascular tissue beds of our Myh11ERT2Cre eYFP SMC-Pericyte (SMC-P) specific lineage tracing mice. Remarkably, we found that 15-20% of eYFP+ cells within the stromovascular fraction of epidydimal and mesenteric fat depots were CD45+ of which >90% were also positive for the macrophage markers CD11b, F4/80, and Lgals3. Of major interest, the percentage of SMC-derived macrophages in pathological fat depots increased about 2-fold upon four-weeks of diet-induced obesity (DIO). Interestingly, these macrophages appear to exhibit an M2-like polarization (anti-inflammatory) in that they were CD206+ but CD86-. Therefore, we hypothesize that SMC-P derived macrophage like cells are a novel source of tissue resident macrophages which play a protective role in regulating the inflammatory and metabolic properties of pathological adipose tissue depots. We have performed single cell RNA sequencing analysis on SMC-P derived macrophages from normal chow diet and obesity diet fed mice. Interestingly, SMC-P derived macrophages cluster together with the regular macrophages in the adipose tissue. We are extending our studies to test the effect of SMC-P Klf4 or IKKB expression to understand the function of SMC-P derived macrophages via metabolic and inflammatory pathways.

  • To get an opportunity to become part of our team, please write up a personal statement (1-2 paragraphs is enough and do not exceed 1 page) and tell us about your career goal, why you are interested in research, what you expect to gain from this experience and what (if any) research experience you have. Please include a resume or a CV if you have one. Email the documents to Gamze Bulut – We look forward to meeting you

OUR Workshop Schedule Spring 2019