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Faculty link to research benefits students

The friendship of two women, Elizabeth Roberts-Kirchhoff, Ph.D., UDM associate professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Hyesook Kim, Ph.D., founder/president of Detroit R&D, Inc., has grown to include benefits for UDM students. Detroit R& D, located in the Metro Center for High Tech Building near UDM, studies and provides products for environmentally related diseases, including toxicity and cancer.

Since 2001, the company has supported summer undergraduate research internships/fellowships for UDM Chemistry and Biochemistry students. “I am incredibly excited to get an opportunity as an undergrad to work in a biochemistry research facility,” says student Kelli Fleischmann, who will join Detroit R&D as a 2004 summer intern. “I feel very fortunate to be attending a university with professors who have connections to such an amazing company.”

Last summer, current UDM graduate student Karrie Manes did research on synthesizing molecules for use in water remediation with Detroit R&D support. “The experience I had ... allowed me to fine-tune my lab techniques. I will always be grateful for the opporunity.” In addition, the company has hired three recent graduates as part-time employees during the academic year or after graduation to work on National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)-grant projects. All three (Brandy Barren, Mohamad Shebley and Olga Radkevich) now are pursuing their doctorate degrees.

Following her experience, Barren wrote to Dr. Kim: “I cannot begin to put into words how much I have learned from you and the employees. Not only did I learn new research techniques and procedures but also how to be a better person.”

Of his experience, Shebley says, “Detroit R&D provided me with an exceptional experience, which prepared me for the Ph.D. program that I’m currently in (at the University of Michigan).”

Roberts-Kirchhoff met “Sook” when she was a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently collaborated with her on several projects, primarily in drug-metabolizing enzymes. Five UDM undergraduates who were involved in two of their collaborative research projects were included in citations for abstracts presented at national meetings.

Of the relationship Kim says, “Collaboration with UDM helps us carry out some critical research and development. We were very happy to find that UDM students with whom we worked are bright, sincere, hard working and fast learners. Most of all, the collaboration gave us a chance to train and encourage UDM students to become better scientists.”