Jaramillo '21 and Brush '20 Earn DAAD RISE Scholarships

Associate Professor Jani Lewis, Nolberto Jaramillo '21, Daniel Brush '20, Associate Professor Eric Helms

Associate Professor Jani Lewis, Nolberto Jaramillo '21, Daniel Brush '20, Associate Professor Eric Helms (SUNY Geneseo/Keith Walters '11)

Nolberto Jaramillo ’21, biology, and Daniel Brush ’20, chemistry, have been awarded 2019 DAAD RISE scholarships to intern this summer in German research laboratories. Jaramillo is from Marion, NY and is presently enrolled in the 3-4 Osteopathic Medicine program and will work in Erlangen, Germany at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität in the Bosserhoff Laboratory. Brush is from Elma, NY and will be researching in Giessen, Germany with the Schreiner Research Group at Justus-Liebig-Universität.  

RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) Germany offers undergraduate students from North American, British, and Irish universities the opportunity to complete a summer research internship at German universities and research institutions. Over 1,090 applications vied for 300 scholarships in this year’s DAAD competition.

Jaramillo and Brush are the third and fourth Geneseo students to win a RISE award.

A hallmark for the College has been the close relationships students like Jaramillo and Brush are afforded with faculty mentors and instructors, especially in terms of undergraduate student research. In 2018 and for the eighth time, Geneseo topped the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Undergraduate Teaching” rankings among regional universities in the North in its Best Colleges 2019 guidebook.  Approximately 450 students per year earn directed study academic credit for research, and up to 70 annually undertake summer research experiences through internal and externally-funded grants like the DAAD RISE. Approximately 170 student research/travel grants, assistantships, and fellowships per year are supported by the Geneseo Foundation, Student Association, and endowments.

Faculty Connection

Jaramillo’s interest in becoming a physician and researcher dedicated to discovering the origins of disease comes from a very personal place as his Aunt Delfina is presently being treated for an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. “Witnessing her struggles have inspired me to contribute to the body of knowledge on cancer to benefit those affected by it,” he said. “Her physical and emotional battle with this disease casts a black shadow on my life and causes my family much torment. Therefore, I am very motivated to improve the lives of those affected by cancer, so they do not have to experience the same trauma.”

Jaramillo’s work as a research assistant in the lab of associate professor of biology Jani Lewis prepared him for the DAAD internship by teaching him many of the skills necessary for cancer research. Jaramillo is currently undertaking an independent research project involving cancer cells that show decreased proliferation when treated with corticosteroids, for which he has been awarded a Geneseo Foundation Research Grant. “Dr. Lewis always explains how each protocol-12 should be executed, as well as why we study our cells the way we do and how they work on a molecular level,” he said. “This level of comprehensive training made my research experiences stand out and was why I was able to get the RISE internship.”


Daniel Brush

"Nolberto is an exceptional student. He is not only a quick understudy in the lab but also gives his classwork the same dedication," said Lewis. "He has a tremendously positive attitude and is always willing to help out in the lab, teaching other students what he has learned." Lewis recognizes what a fantastic opportunity the RISE program affords him. "I studied in France during my undergraduate schooling and gained invaluable experiences," she said. "I know that Nolberto is mature enough to handle studying in a foreign country and would experience the same great benefits from doing so."

Brush’s current research in the laboratory of Eric Helms, associate professor of chemistry, deals with organic synthesis as well as synthetic organic chemistry that has the potential for drug design. In the future, Brush plans to enroll in a doctoral program to become a university professor, focusing on pharmaceutical research and teaching. “Dr. Helms is the smartest person that I know, and I swear he sees electrons moving and reactions occurring in thin air,” said Brush. “I still cannot believe how much responsibility and autonomy that he gives me in the lab. Geneseo is one of the few, if not only, institutions where undergraduate students can conduct research in a lab setting where they design their experiment, try new techniques, offer improvements, and interpret their data.”

"Daniel is inquisitive and resourceful, two traits that help him push his research here toward completion and will serve him well in his future career," said Helms who had a study abroad experience in Oldenburg, Germany. "He has a personality that meshes well with others and has shown the ability to work well in a group or as an individual." Helms feels that Brush will excel at pretty much anything he puts his mind and “truly enjoys chemistry and the challenge that it represents. He will make significant contributions to society with his work."

Previous RISE Students

Previous RISE winners from 2015 include Luke Taverne ’15 and Alexandra Dananberg ’17. Also in 2015, James Williams ‘14 won a DAAD German Academic Exchange Fellowship for graduate study. In 2017, SUNY Geneseo faculty member Douglas Owens received a Fulbright German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) award to attend the summer academy in Leipzig for U.S.-American faculty in German Studies. Finally, Declan Dwyer-McNulty ’17 spent 2016-2017 as a DAAD Young Ambassador educating Geneseo students about scholarship programs and study abroad experiences in Germany.

Dananberg, now a Ph.D. student in molecular biology at Weill Cornell School of Medical Sciences, was placed in a lab at the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany: “My experience allowed me to participate in interdisciplinary research with researchers from diverse backgrounds, build friendships with people around the world, and completely immerse myself in German culture.” The RISE program had “a significant impact on my life, academically and personally. I returned with a deep desire for science research and joined the lab of assistant professor of Biology Travis Bailey investigating retinal degeneration in zebrafish. ”She does not avoid the drudgery that comes with the research,” Bailey said. “Alexandra is a driven worker, with enthusiasm for discovering new things.”  Bailey deeply influenced Alex’s career path as she calls him “a fantastic mentor in and outside of the lab. My experiences through RISE and Geneseo helped shape me into the scientist and person I am today.”  

STEM undergraduates interested in the DAAD RISE program should contact the director of National Fellowships and Scholarships, Michael Mills at millsm@geneseo.edu or (585) 245-6002. More information about all the DAAD programs and other nationally and internationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs can be found on Geneseo’s Fellowships & Scholarships page.

-by Michael Mills