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Summer 2021 Undergraduate Research Opportunity

The Lemkul Lab seeks four (4) highly motivated undergraduate students to participate in a 10-week mentored summer undergraduate research project. Students will learn to perform and analyze molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, use a Linux terminal, access and use world-class, high-performance computing clusters at Virginia Tech, learn about immersive visualization, and learn basics of Python programming and shell scripting.

Project Details

G-quadruplexes (GQs) are non-canonical nucleic acid structures that arise in guanine-rich regions of DNA and RNA sequences. GQs are highly enriched in promoters, telomeres, origins of replication, and 5'- and 3'-untranslated regions of RNA. This observation suggests that GQs play important roles in regulating genomic maintenance and gene expression. Importantly, many GQs have been identified in promoters or coding sequences of proto-oncogenes, making them attractive targets for novel chemotherapeutics via modulation of GQ stability by small molecules. The participants in the summer undergraduate research program will perform MD simulations on a variety of GQ structures to gain an understanding of their structural properties and their ability to bind and retain ions, which is essential for their stabilization. Simulations will be performed with the cutting-edge Drude polarizable force field.


The project is funded by the Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust. Students will be paid $5000 over the 10-week period ($12.50/hour, 40 hours/week).

The project will begin on June 1, 2021 and will end on August 6, 2021. Students are expected to participate fully for the entire project period.

There is no budget for travel or housing of student participants. Please contact Dr. Lemkul for suggestions on accommodations in Blacksburg over the summer.

Eligibility and Application Instructions

To be eligible, you must be an undergraduate student who has completed coursework in:

  • General Biology

  • General Chemistry

  • Organic Chemistry

Preference will be given to any applicant who has also completed coursework in any of the following:

  • Biochemistry

  • Molecular Biology

  • Computer Programming

Students who have completed their undergraduate degree are not eligible for the program.

To apply, send the following documents via email to Dr. Lemkul no later than 5 PM on April 22, 2021:

  • Cover letter stating your reason for applying for the program and your academic/professional goals

  • Curriculum vitae including list of relevant completed courses

  • One (1) professional recommendation letter from a faculty advisor, mentor, classroom instructor, or previous employer (emailed separately by the recommender)

All application materials must be received by the deadline for full consideration.

All participants will be required to provide proof of eligibility for employment in the United States and will have to submit to a criminal background check.

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