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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    BRAVO! gives global lab work

    A UA program aims to provide students with international biological or biomedical experience while still allowing them stay on track for graduation.

    The UA’s Biomedical Research Abroad: Vistas Open! (BRAVO!) program, spawned from the Undergraduate Biology Research Program in 1992, focuses on sending science undergraduates to conduct research in various sites located around the globe.

    “”We started (BRAVO!) because it really seemed important for students who are interested in science to also have an international experience,”” said Carol Bender, BRAVO! director. “”Many of the problems that face humankind are problems that will require solutions by people who have a scientific background who can also work cross-culturally.””

    As of August 2008, more than 170 UA undergraduates have researched abroad in 89 sites, in 34 countries, spanning six continents, Bender said.

    UA biochemistry and molecular biophysics senior Sarah Nelson spent twelve weeks last summer at a laboratory in the University of Cambridge to research an imaging technique under development that may be able to image the body’s metabolic processes.

    “”It was really cool to work in a lab that’s at such a forefront of technology and developing very novel, new techniques,”” Nelson said.

    Nelson visited Cambridge, England when she spent three years in a small village near Bristol, so it wasn’t a tough decision to travel there and conduct her research.

    “”Cambridge is a phenomenal city, centuries and centuries and centuries old with so much history. I’d walk to work and pass by these very famous, historic buildings where very influential people have lived,”” Nelson said.

    Both the cultural and research experiences proved fulfilling to UA physiology senior Clayton Mosher, who traveled to Rehovot, Israel for 10 weeks last summer and analyzed different aspects of emotional memory at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

    “”We know that memories are enhanced after you sleep, so that’s why you should study and then sleep so you can remember things better the next day,”” Mosher said.

    While in Israel, Mosher got the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem, take in the sights and try to adjust to the country’s culture.

    “”All (young adults) are in the military, there are people just walking around dressed as soldiers with guns on the bus, and of course you have the very Orthodox Jewish people walking around,”” Mosher said. “”On the weekends, everything would be closed, even public transportation because of the Sabbath. It was interesting.””

    Getting into the BRAVO! program takes more than getting good grades.

    “”(Students) need research experience. The first thing (students) have to do is get themselves into a research group on this campus,”” Bender said. “”(Students) need to not only learn techniques and become immersed in a problem but they need to also impress their faculty mentor with their emotional maturity and scientific prowess.””

    Once a student is accepted, they can expect their transportation, living expenses and supplemental health insurance to be covered by BRAVO!. The average cost to send a student abroad for 10 to 12 weeks is roughly $7,500, which the program receives via external grants provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

    “”Fortunately, (BRAVO!) has been very, very lucky. Even though our model is somewhat unorthodox in that we send students on their own instead of as a group, we’ve been able to find grants that will support students,”” Bender said.

    The support BRAVO! provides not only benefits its students, but the UA as well.

    “”BRAVO! helps (students) form international collaborations. That’s good to get people out into the world and form these associations, so they get to know the UA, and it’s also just good for the students at a general level to help (them) grow and learn about world culture,”” Mosher said.

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