The Fralin Life Science Institute is committed to offering Virginia Tech life sciences students a first-class education in which they work elbow-to-elbow in the laboratory and the field with professional scientists. They solve real problems, use cutting edge technology, and build extensive, impressive portfolios to further their careers. Additionally, the Virginia Tech Life Science Seminars Series, sponsored by Fralin, brings in top-notch scientists from across the country to lecture and interact with students in small groups. Multiple other seminars, symposia, and workshops—including a bi-annual grant writing workshop—are offered to stimulate scientific thought and growth. Fralin is committed to supporting undergraduate and graduate level research on a multitude of levels.
The Wilkins-Fralin Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program is a competitive, 10-week fellowship that allows Virginia Tech sophomores, juniors and seniors to pursue life sciences research full-time during the summer. Approximately twelve fellowships are awarded and recipients are notified in the Spring. Students are totally immersed in a project for ten weeks during the summer and present the results to their peers and mentors at the end of the period. Past fellows have emerged from the experience with one or more publications in peer reviewed journals, in addition to a better appreciation for what it is like to be a research scientist.
In order to be considered, applicants must identify a faculty sponsor with whom they intend to work, and student and sponsor prepare the application together. Approximately twelve fellowships of $3300 are awarded.
The SURF Experience
"This fellowship has been instrumental in my education as I determine my future occupation as it has shown me the fundamentals behind a research career. This opportunity has provided me with invaluable hands-on experience where concepts taught in the classroom become tangible and where my hypotheses and reasoning can be tested by utilizing concrete and innovative procedures."
- Amy Modlin, Biology ‘13
Historically, Fralin has also provided funding for USDA scholars, Novozymes Internship Awards, and various laboratory resources used by undergraduate students.
Graduate students—those pursuing degrees at the master’s and Ph.D. levels— are a vital part of the Fralin framework. For several years, Fralin offered assistantships to distinguished Fralin fellows. Now, the Fralin Life Science Institute donates a significant percentage of its budget each year to the Virginia Tech graduate school’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP). Meanwhile, significant contributions are made annually to graduate student training, workshops, networking events and other resources. Fralin supported nine graduate students from the Biochemistry, Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise, Molecular Plant Sciences, Entomology, Microbiology, and Cell and Development Biology programs with tuition and assistantship support during the 2010-11 school year. With the help of key life science faculty from around campus, the institute also organized a graduate recruiting weekend during the Fall 2010 semester, bringing top students to Virginia Tech from numerous universities around the country. Graduate students who are interested in working with the institute should contact an affiliated faculty member in his or her field.
The Graduate Student Experience
“Fralin has provided me with an extremely accessible environment for completing my PhD. The staff members have been quite helpful and accommodating for everything that I have needed, whether it be something as simple as scheduling meetings in the board room or something more difficult like finding a specific Mac computer that can handle the modeling software I used for my research. Plus, there are free donuts and coffee!”
- Phillip George, Entomology ‘12
"My time at Fralin has put me in close proximity with informed faculty working on highly relevant projects and provided easy access to cutting edge equipment."
- Ashley Peery, Entomology ‘15