Three sets of twins in CLIMB UP.

Three sets of twins took part in CLIMB UP for Summer Research. From left, Cydney Blake Burroughs, Chidalu Anameze, Chidera Anameze, Camryn Warren, Marisa Warren and Camyrn Blake Burroughs.

Undergrads Enjoy Mentoring, Research in Summer Program

Published September 7, 2022

By Dirk Hoffman

A summer research program focused on providing undergraduate students from diverse groups guidance toward graduate and professional careers in the biosciences recently wrapped up a successful 2022 campaign. 

“CLIMB UP is an umbrella program for undergraduates that provides research mentoring, professional development and opportunity to explore graduate and health science professions.”
Senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion and SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology

CLIMB UP (Undergraduate Program) for Summer Research is an interdisciplinary, 10-week long summer research program for undergraduates to conduct research in the biomedical, behavorial and health sciences. 

It is a division of CLIMB (Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences), which was founded at UB in 2009 by Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion and SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

Twenty-Five Scholars From Across US Participate

“CLIMB UP is an umbrella program for undergraduates that provides research mentoring, professional development and opportunity to explore graduate and health science professions,” Dubocovich says. 

The year, the program hosted 25 scholars from three of its subdivisions: 

  • Six students were from CLIMB PRO, which is for students who intend to pursue a medical degree or MD/PhD.

The summer program featured a research forum on graduate and professional careers in biomedical and behavioral sciences; as well as a BIO-STEM Scientific Discovery Series, where faculty from various UB departments presented an overview of their laboratory work and described their career paths.

CLIMB UP culminated with a summer research symposium where the students showcased their research projects through oral and poster presentations.

Vanshika Khattar.

UB nursing student Vanshika Khattar presented her research project titled “Mindfulness and Symptom Management in Patients with Pulmonary Hypertension.”

Lab Skills, Research Training Appreciated

The introduction to laboratory skills sessions and the research communication workshops were the most frequently mentioned when students were asked for their favorite portion of the summer program. 

Chidera Anameze, a UB biomedical sciences student who plans to attend medical school to become an obstetrician-gynecologist, says learning the basics of a wet lab setup was a “really nice experience of what we would be doing in a regular lab setting.” 

Anameze says she also really enjoyed the weekly workshops and getting feedback from her peers as well as the teaching assistants. 

“I felt a lot of support coming from CLIMB UP, as well as our peers,” she says. “It really made me enjoy this program.” 

Vanshika Khattar, a UB nursing major who hopes to become a MD-PhD, says she also appreciated the research communication workshops that taught the students how to prepare a poster and an oral presentation. 

“This was my first time presenting research so it was extremely helpful that we met in small groups and did practice runs every week,” she says. 

Leslie McClinton III.

Leslie McClinton III, a student at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, presents his research on prostate cancer to one of his peers.

Seeing Double: Three Sets of Twins in Program

Leslie McClinton III, is a biology major from Tougaloo College in Mississippi with aspirations to becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon-neuroscientist. 

He says the experience was great and his mentor consistently took time out of her busy schedule to answer any of his questions and to make sure he was settled in. 

McClinton is one of eight Early Opportunity Program in Medicine (EOPIM) students completing the summer program. The eight will enter medical school at UB directly in the fall 0f 2023. 

Among this group is two sets of twins: Chidera and Chidalu Anameze, and Marisa and Camryn Warren. 

Another set of twins also participated in the summer research program — making three sets of twins who took part in CLIMB UP 2022. 

Cydney Blake Burroughs, a University of Maryland Eastern Shore biology major who aspires to become a cardiologist, says she “really liked learning from her mistakes.” 

“My favorite part was definitely the trial-and-error because coming into the experience you kind of expect things will go smoothly,” she says. “And once you get into the lab you realize it takes a lot of patience and communication.” 

Her sister, Camryn Blake Burroughs, also a University of Maryland Eastern Shore biology major, aspires to become a psychiatrist. 

“I really appreciated this just being an open-minded environment,” she says. “Coming into this I didn’t have any research experience so I really appreciated getting a chance to know my mentor and ask him questions.” 

Sightseeing, Picnic Augment Scholarly Activities

Dubocovich says the students enjoyed a balanced schedule of academic, research and fun activities during the program that ran from May 31 to Aug. 6. 

On the lighter side, outings included a healthy hike at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga, the annual picnic at a Tonawanda Park, and a trip to Niagara Falls to tour the Cave of the Winds, followed by the program’s traditional Buffalo chicken wing lunch. 

Dubocovich says another participating program in social activities was the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), directed by Shanna Crump-Owens. 

Funded by the New York State Department of Education, the grant-funded program supports talented underrepresented students pursuing degrees in STEM, licensed professionals and health-related professions. 

Funding for CLIMB UP is provided by: 

  • American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 
  • Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences 
  • UB’s Office of the Provost and the other participating UB schools 

Collaborative Team Oversees Program

In addition to Dubocovich, others on the CLIMB UP team are: 

  • Hannah Lynn Norris, PhD, iSEED scientific workforce coordinator 
  • Shruti Suresh, iSEED student assistant 
  • David E. Shubert, PhD, lab course instructor. Shubert is assistant dean of biomedical undergraduate education and an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology 
  • Deborah M. Timineri, lab course instructor in pharmacology and toxicology
  • Maria Loreto Wilson, inclusive excellence workforce specialist

Research communication workshop mentors were: 

  • Verenice Ascencio Gutierrez 
  • Jordan M. Johnson 
  • Dayron M. Leyva Rodriguez 
  • Edwin Ovalle
  • Julia Grace Pietromicca