COSAM News Articles 2022 April Genetics major Jarious Avery selected for UAB and HudsonAlpha’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Genomic Medicine

Genetics major Jarious Avery selected for UAB and HudsonAlpha’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Genomic Medicine

Published: 04/25/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Jarious Avery is making plans for an exciting summer experience and is eager to apply his genetics training to a prestigious internship at an internationally-renowned biotechnology institute.

A junior majoring in genetics in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, Avery is one of 12 scholars selected to attend the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Genomic Medicine, or SURE-GM, at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville.

SURE-GM is a two-year summer collaborative program between the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or UAB, and HudsonAlpha that gives outstanding undergraduates the opportunity to explore a potential career as a scientific investigator in the fields of genetics and genomics.

As a SURE-GM intern, Avery will spend the first 8-week summer session, beginning May 31, at HudsonAlpha and will receive training on fundamental research skills.

The following summer, the program will provide a mentored research experience in a research lab at either UAB or HudsonAlpha.

The program's goal is to provide underrepresented students who are pursuing a career in genomic or genetic research with the necessary experience, skills, and knowledge needed to succeed in the field.

“We are excited to build connections between our new genetics major students and HudsonAlpha’s world-class genetics research facility,” said Bob Boyd, COSAM’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “This internship is a terrific opportunity for Jarious to get hands-on experience in his major and explore next steps for his educational experience.”

For Avery, the SURE-GM internship is perfect timing as he completes his first year in the new genetics major.

“UAB and HudsonAlpha are such well respected institutions, and this internship will help me continue to find my passion and allow me to develop skills to be a better geneticist and scientist,” said Avery. “Personally, this opportunity just comes at a good time and has really brightened my world.”

Avery’s main goals for the internship are to learn more about genetic research, become more proficient in technologies, make new networking connections with colleagues and utilize the experience to become more marketable when applying for future job opportunities.

Avery’s decision to pursue a degree specifically in genetics has evolved over the past few years as an undergraduate at Auburn.

“I originally came to Auburn to be a pharmacist, but discovered I wanted to pursue a career that was more research or lab based, so I switched to integrative biology,” said Avery. “I then learned more about the new genetics major, and specifically, genetic counseling appealed to me because it incorporated the healthcare aspect that I was originally interested in with pharmacy, yet it would allow me to work in more of a lab setting. It’s also a career where I can work with both humans and animals and further explore genetics research.”

Sixty-eight students have declared genetics as their major during its first year as a major at Auburn. So far, Avery has taken courses such as Human Genetics and Molecular Genetics and with many courses being biology focused, he says the major switch has been a fairly easy learning curve for him.

“I like that the genetics major gives you an in-depth view of the entire field of genetics, and I feel like it will prepare undergrads for graduate school or future career endeavors in genetics,” said Avery.

Avery encourages students who might be interested in pursuing the genetics field to explore on-campus research opportunities and outside opportunities like REUs and internships.

At Auburn, he has been involved in research with the Wolak Research Group, working with Matthew Wolak, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and doctoral student Jacob Botello to study mitochondria inheritance in beetles.

“Seeing Jacob’s passion for his studies and research has really rubbed off on me,” said Avery. “It has influenced me not just in science, but it’s inspired me in life to be passionate about what you truly enjoy and follow those opportunities that bring you joy.”

As a rising senior in the fall, Avery is already setting new educational goals. Beyond Auburn, he wants to further his education and plans to attend graduate school.

“I’ll be able to take what I learn during the SURE-GM internship over the next two summers and apply it to my experience as a genetics major, as well as my future educational and career endeavors,” said Avery. “I’m excited to see the impact this experience will have on my future.”

"We are constantly encouraging our Overton Jenda Scholars to pursue summer research opportunities,” said Kimberly Mulligan-Guy, COSAM Assistant Dean of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity. “Conducting research as an undergraduate changed my career path, because I was exposed to opportunities that I wasn't aware of. But even if you decide it's not for you, research helps build critical and analytical skills which are useful no matter your career path. We're so excited for Jarious to be able to share his experience at HudsonAlpha with our other scholars which will hopefully encourage them to pursue opportunities in the future."

For more information on COSAM’s undergraduate degree in genetics, please visit the genetics major webpage.

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