News Students

Concordia Sends Three Students to Scripps Research

From left: Luke Bergstrom ’22, Reilly Mach ’22, and Leo Smith ’22

In 2017, Scripps Research received 507 applications for their summer undergraduate research programs. Of those 507, 40 students were selected. With an acceptance rate of just under 8 percent, Concordia is thrilled to send three incoming seniors to complete the 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program this year. Smith and Mach will spend their summer at Scripps’ California location in La Jolla, while Bergstrom will complete his 10 weeks on the opposite coast in Jupiter, Fla.

Scripps Research is introduced regularly to Concordia students through Dr. Mark Sundrud ’00. Sundrud, an associate professor at Scripps, regularly comes to campus to talk to students about the research opportunities. All interested students are encouraged to apply, especially because Scripps saves one SURF position a year for a Concordia applicant.

“It is a major advantage that Scripps reserves one spot each summer for a Concordia student, so I knew it was worth it to apply for the internal spot,” Mach said. 

While at Scripps, Mach will be studying neurodegenerative diseases and their molecular mechanics, focusing specifically on the reaction S-nitrosylation.

“This reaction has roles in regulating proteins,” she said. “When it goes wrong, it can contribute to protein aggregation seen in various neurodegenerative diseases.”

Mach gives her appreciation to Concordia’s science programs for helping her prepare her application for Scripps, especially Dr. Krys Strand, associate professor of biology and director of neuroscience and undergraduate research. 

“I am so thankful to the faculty at Concordia, specifically Dr. Strand, who helped guide me through the process and learn how to best market myself,” she said.

After hearing she was admitted, Mach rushed to the faculty who wrote her letters of recommendation. Then, it was time to plan some fun.

“I have to admit, my next step was googling ‘best things to do in San Diego,’” she said. 

Smith, who will be joining Mach in La Jolla, was also quick to apply to Scripps after hearing about it as a first-year student at Concordia.

“I remember being fascinated hearing about the research taking place at Scripps, so I kept it on my radar for future research applications,” Smith said. 

Smith, an aspiring chemist, also received help from Concordia staff with his application.

“The guidance I received from Riley Schwanz at the Career Center was extremely helpful as I planned my application and the documents it required,” he said.

Smith is looking forward to attending graduate school to study chemistry, then pursue a career in science, aiming to better the human experience.

“I have always wanted to become a scientist,” he said. “I think science is fundamental to developing ways to improve human well-being.”

This summer, Smith will be studying the central nervous system of mammals, specifically the chemical synthesis of alkaloids and their impacts.

Across the country in Jupiter, Bergstrom will be working in a radar laboratory.

“I will be responsible for helping develop a novel conjugation of chemotherapy drugs to monoclonal antibodies for cancer therapy,” he said.

Bergstrom plans to work in the medical field and hopes this research will lead to improved patient care. Science aside, he’s also excited to spend a summer somewhere tropical.

“I would be lying if I didn’t also admit that I’m quite excited to be living so close to the beach,” he said.