Durcan Scholar Program
Through the Durcan Scholar Program, you will gain undergraduate knowledge of your discipline and develop research skills by working on faculty-mentored projects for the entire year.
Undergraduate Assistantship Details
Award Amount: $7,500+
- summer stipend of $5,000
- supplemented by $2500 minimum from a faculty mentor
- covers stipend, conference, travel or other project-related expenses
Awards available per year: 4
Duration: 12 months
Undergraduate students receiving this award must:
- Participate in summer research experience and engagement throughout the award period. Recipients will either register for undergraduate research credits or be employed by the faculty mentor during the academic year.
- A written report consistent with the standards of the discipline of the recipient must be submitted at the end of the program. Project results must also be disseminated through an oral or poster presentation either at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by Office of Undergraduate Research or a similar public forum.
Past Durcan Scholars
Biological engineering senior Silpa Subedi is using an inexpensive nanoparticle to help our immune systems better recognize cancer cells and fight against them.
“Determining what kind of research you want to do forces you to think about what you are passionate about.” Silpa Subedi, Senior in Biological Engineering
The 2019 Durcan Scholar is working with professor and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering chair Ching-An Peng, to test gene delivery capacity, or the ability to introduce genetic material into a cell, of these nanoparticles by preparing them in various chemical conditions.
“Our own immune cells could recognize cancer cells in our bodies and fight them without harming the healthy cells,” she said. “With the research going on in immunotherapy, I hope in the future we could develop a cancer treatment that is cost-efficient and accessible worldwide.”
As an undergraduate, Subedi said her research has helped enrich her class work, even if the subjects don't directly overlap, and has provided clarity toward her true academic and career goals.
“Determining what kind of research you want to do forces you to think about what you are passionate about,” she said. “As you engage more deeply in your research, you will soon realize what interests you and what you could do without. Research has helped many people, myself included, confirm their desire to go into medicine.”
Subedi said funding from the Durcan Scholar assistantship and U of I Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship have contributed to her added experience writing grants and presenting at conferences.
After graduation in May 2021, Subedi said she plans to work in oncology research at a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company for a couple years before going to medical school.