After Emory canceled the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) two weeks ago, students are scrambling to readjust their summer plans. 

SURE is a 10-week summer program that allows students to work on independent research projects and also provides them with professional development opportunities. In an email sent to the 52 accepted students on April 3, Associate Director of Undergraduate Research Programs Timothy Raines said that students who can continue their research remotely will be given a stipend of $3,000 for the summer. Students unable to conduct remote research can defer their acceptance for automatic admission into the 2021 SURE program. 

Anna Voss (22C) is one student who has been able to take advantage of the option to pursue remote research. Voss, who originally planned to work on an independent project studying the sequence of promoters and cell lineages in Assistant Professor Steven Sloan’s lab in the Department of Human Genetics, now plans to help develop a software to analyze research data instead. 

“I am really lucky because I have a background in coding so I am able to do some computational work over the summer … I am going to be coding and developing a software for the lab to use later on,” Voss said. “It’s a totally different project, but I am still going to be able to get the experience with an independent project.”

Voss said that she was glad that Emory provided students with the opportunity to do remote research.

“I applied to a bunch of different research experiences across the country and all of them got canceled, and so it was kind of a big deal that Emory was able to offer the online option,” Voss said. “It’s an awesome alternative.”

However, remote research isn’t an option available to all students. Raines said that of the 39 responses he has received from students, 12 have decided to defer their acceptance. Two such students are Mellisa Xie (22C) and Dabin Cho (22C), who had planned to do research in Assistant Professor of Biology Leila Rieder’s lab, which studies how nuclear organization affects gene regulation. 

Xie, who was going to research genotyping early embryos, decided to defer her acceptance because she felt that remote research wouldn’t give her “the full SURE experience.” 

Both Xie and Cho are unsure of what their summer plans will look like. Cho said that he plans to volunteer at a hospital if he is able to.

“I don’t know how long [the] coronavirus is going to last,” Cho said. “I think I will volunteer if I can — if [hospitals] let me.”

Xie said that she is probably going to use the time to study for the MCAT, and, like Cho, try to volunteer. 

Raines said that he was surprised by the number of students who have decided to proceed with remote research. 

“I think it is because … many summer programs across the United States are shutting down … so students are looking for things to do,” Raines said. “A lot of the projects that were originally wet-lab based are transitioning to computational work.”

Raines said that the program plans to be “flexible” with the kind of research students can pursue remotely.

“We are not dictating what you do outside of that you are asking some type of question that you can develop new knowledge for that you can present at the end of the summer,” he said.

Raines noted that although graduating seniors are usually ineligible for the program, in order to ensure that the Class of 2021 has the opportunity to participate in SURE, they will be eligible to participate in 2021. Raines also said that deferred acceptances will not affect the number of students accepted into the program next year.