Biochemistry Student Wins DAAD RISE Scholarship

Varuni Jamburuthugoda and Abbey Hanes

Assistant professor of biology Varuni Jamburuthugoda and Abbey Hanes ’25 (SUNY Geneseo photo/Matt Burkhartt)

Biochemistry major Abbey Hanes ’25 has been awarded a 2024 DAAD RISE scholarship to intern this summer in a German research laboratory. Hanes, from Angola, NY, will work in the Niemeyer Lab at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology in Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany.   

RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) Germany offers undergraduate students from North American, British, and Irish universities a fully funded opportunity to complete a summer research internship at German universities and research institutions. A record 2,358 applications vied for 370 scholarships in this year’s DAAD competition.

“The research being conducted by Dr. Niemeyer and his team surrounding the immobilization of enzyme systems for improved biocatalysis is compelling to me,” says Hanes. “I am particularly interested in the possible positive impact the study of enzymes could have on the environment in the future.”

Hanes is the ninth Geneseo student to win a RISE award. Her future plans include a biochemistry PhD program at Washington State University, Northwestern University, or Duke ahead of a career using biochemistry to understand and treat the human body.

Geneseo undergraduates like Hanes often work closely with faculty mentors and instructors on student research. US News & World Report’s 2024  Best Colleges list ranks Geneseo #2 for undergraduate teaching in the Regional Universities—North category, tied with Loyola University Maryland and Marist College. 

Approximately 500 Geneseo students each year earn directed study academic credit for research, and up to 70 annually undertake summer research experiences through internal and external grants like the DAAD RISE. Approximately 250 student research and travel grants, assistantships, and fellowships per year are supported by the Geneseo Foundation, Student Association, and endowments.

Student/Faculty Research

Hanes’ current research in the laboratory of Varuni Jamburuthugoda, assistant professor of biology, involves transposable elements, or mobile DNA sequences that can replicate within genomes independent of a host cell DNA, as well as the dynamics of Malate Dehydrogenase Mutation (MDH) and enzyme activity. 

“Being part of Dr. Jamburuthugoda’s research lab has played a huge role in my growth as both a scientist and a person,” says Hanes. “I knew I enjoyed science but had no idea what I wanted to pursue after college. Dr. J’s mentorship and support have been instrumental in shaping my path to the RISE internship and graduate school.” 

STEM undergraduates interested in the DAAD RISE or other summer research programs should contact Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships Michael Mills at or 585-245-6002. More information about all the DAAD programs and other nationally and internationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs can be found at Fellowships & Scholarships.

—Michael Mills