Undergraduate Pipeline Network Summer Research Program (UPN)

The Undergraduate Pipeline Network summer research experience seeks to cultivate students' interest in research while helping them attain skills needed to apply for and succeed in post-baccalaureate education. The program provides the opportunity for students to choose from several areas of research at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center.  The program period covers 10 weeks in the summer and scholars participate in the program a minimum of 40 hours per week.

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is a cutting edge health research center with more than $145 million in grants each year and more than 20 current clinical trials. New Mexico is rich with scientific and technological capabilities, which allows our researchers to take advantage of nearby resources by combining regional scientific strengths into our programs. UNM faculty and students regularly collaborate with scientists from Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute; and with scientists at New Mexico State University

Each scholar is mentored during the program by a faculty member. In addition, scholars will have regular contact with a graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, medical resident, clinical fellow, or research staff member during the entire period of their program.

Each scholar has a research project that provides the student with sufficient opportunity to demonstrate his/her ability to conduct independent research. Scholars will present their research project to the scientific community during the program’s competitive poster symposium.

The UPN Program awards each scholar a summer experience package to cover a stipend, activity fees and some meals. The UPN Program awards each scholar a research stipend up to $5000.00

UPN 2021 Program Dates: June 1 through August 7

The program is designed to cultivate an interest in research through exposure to various types of research, develop of research skills and prepare participants for graduate education in the health and social sciences.  It includes elements that strive to increase students’ competency in:

  • Presentation skills
  • Preparing graduate program applications (essay writing and interview skills)
  • Working with mentors
  • Professional skills and research etiquette
  • Responsible conduct of research
  • Being a member of a multi-disciplinary team
  • Understanding options for careers in scientific research

UPN Scholars are exposed to the opportunity to learn about research activities in different settings via the UPN seminar and cohort-building activities.

UPN Scholars are expected to:

  • Give full-time commitment to their research
  • Attend the weekly seminar series
  • Attend all activities
  • Prepare a poster and present their research at a poster symposium
  • Complete all evaluations in a timely manner
  • Treat all members of the UNM community in a respectful manner, recognizing the impact that their attitude may have on others
  • Promptly seek help regarding any problem s/he is experiencing, at a minimum reporting the problem to someone in a position to help
  • Follow the UNM Code of Conduct. Students who violate this code may be dismissed from the program
  • Submit weekly time sheets approved by their mentor by noon each Friday

What Participants Say About UPN

UPN Scholars Comments:

  • I would like to thank the program for giving me this opportunity and matching me with such an awesome mentor. Thank you
  • I liked how much I grew as a scientist. I was forced out of my comfort zone and that was beneficial. This experience has provided me with critical reasoning skills that are invaluable as I move forward. Also, the networking was great.
  • My community isn’t full of scholars and this experience gave me the confirmation that I should continue research. At a very basic level, I can be a role model for my community.
  • Thank you for being passionate about what you do by going above and beyond during the UPN program to help us find opportunities and funding for those opportunities. It reminds me that nothing is ever impossible no matter how tough it may seem. Nothing is ever too big to accomplish. I will never forget how much the UPN program  helped me and motivated me by opening new doors and sparking an interest in research.
  • I am very excited for all the wonderful opportunities the UPN program has brought to me. I believe a lot of the UPN students just went to SACNAS conference, I hope that went well! Your program has helped so many of us in so many ways. Thank you!
  • I’m excited to keep pursuing my research goals, and I’m not sure I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for all that I gained from the UPN experience

UPN Mentor Comments:

  • This UPN experience has been truly rewarding this year. My student has been a wonderful addition to the lab. I wish we could keep her.
  • My student has excelled in every aspect of learning: experimental skills, subject knowledge, collegiality with peers and mentors.  Thanks for a great match.
  • Great work with UPN, it was a fabulous summer with my student. Thanks for making this program possible.
  • Keep renewing [the program]!
  • It’s fun to have young people around and watch them grow.
  • It’s a lot of work, and for 10 weeks, you’re worried about them; are they going to succeed and do well? Am I giving them all I can possibly give them? But it’s fun, really fun. 


UPN Symposium Award Winners

Theodore Muka
New Mexico State University

Project Title: RUNX2 regulates cell migration in T-cell lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Mentor: Ksenia Matlawska-Wasowska, PhD


Rebekka Anderson
Baylor University

Project Title: The role of ASCL1 and OLIG2 in regulating the progression of glioblastomas
Mentor: Tou Vue, PhD


Aleyah Goins
Central New Mexico Community College

Project title: The Role of Adipose-Specific JunB in Treating Obesity
Mentor: Meilian Liu, PhD  


Avantika Krishna
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Project title: Ketorolac Treatment Reduces Pro-Tumorigenic Cytokines in Ascites Samples from Ovarian Cancer Patients
Mentor: Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD


Muskan Bansal
Virginia Commonwealth University

Project title: The Role of ErbB3 in Ovarian Cancer Cell Spheroid Formation
Mentor: Mara Steinkamp, PhD


Hyesun Choi
University of New Mexico

Project Title: Impact of Third Trimester-Equivalent Alcohol Exposure on Motor Function in Mice
Mentor: Fernando Valenzuela, MD PhD


Danielle Vigil
Adams State University

Project Title: Collagen V and NFATc3 in Hypoxic Pulmonary Hypertension
Mentor: Laura Gonzalez-Bosc, PhD


Kara Burton
New Mexico State University

Project Title: Acute Effects of Inhaled Tungsten Particles on the Lung Microenvironment
Mentor: Alicia Bolt, PhD

Thank You!

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all of the UPN Funders.

Without your generous contributions, this program would not be possible.

 Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences

School of Medicine Research Education Office

 IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence

UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center