Four UCR Undergraduates Awarded Prestigious Research Fellowships

Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowships enable students to conduct research in top labs this summer

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – Four undergraduate students at the University of California, Riverside have won fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)’s Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP). The program provides support for students who are motivated toward careers as academic scientists to participate in cutting-edge research over the summer. It is geared toward students who come from racial, ethnic, and other underrepresented groups in the sciences, including those from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Each year I can nominate four students for the EXROP Fellowship, so you can imagine how happy I am that all were selected,” said Susan Wessler, distinguished professor of genetics at UCR. “EXROP is a fantastic opportunity for our best undergraduates to broaden their research horizons by working in the very best labs in the U.S.”

The recipients are Diana Medina-Yerena, Benjamin Meza, Alejandro Quinones, and Sabrina Stulting. All four students also participate in the University Honors Program.

Wessler nominated the students with help from Jim Burnette, an academic coordinator and director of UCR’s Dynamic Genome program. Wessler, who was named a HHMI Professor in 2006 for her work to engage undergraduate students in science, developed the Dynamic Genome program to introduce first-year undergraduates to an authentic research experience.

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The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California’s diverse culture, UCR’s enrollment is now nearly 23,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.