Judith Behnsen

    Email Address: jbehnsen@uic.edu
    College: Medicine Department: Microbiology and Immunology
    Title: Assistant Professor
    Office: MSB E807 Phone: 312-413-1063
    Webpage: https://sites.google.com/uic.edu/behnsen/home
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    My laboratory studies the pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, which causes gastroenteritis in humans. We are particularly interested in the role of the bacterial and fungal microbiota during Salmonella pathogenesis. We use in vitro models like cell culture as well as small animal models to study how bacteria and fungi interact with each other, Salmonella, and the host. Next to conventionally raised mice we use mice that are devoid of any microbes (germ-free). We are the first lab to raise germ-free mice at UIC. One of the main advantages of these mice is that they can be selectively colonized with bacteria and fungi of interest. This allows us to understand relationships of these microbes and their interactions with the host in a less complex system.

    Current research opportunities within our group include:
    1) Elucidating the role of a Salmonella protease in the interaction with commensal fungi and the host
    2) Characterizing the role of fungal siderophores during Salmonella pathogenesis

    The Behnsen lab is a brand new lab at UIC. Motivated Undergraduate researchers contributed tremendously to Dr. Behnsen’s previous research at other institutions and were authors on multiple publications. We strive to establish a similar highly collaborative and dynamic group here at UIC, where Undergraduate researchers are part of the team, contribute significantly to research, and earn authorships on publications. We aim for scientific excellence and offer a stimulating and inclusive working environment conducive to learning and professional development.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 12

    Qualifications of a Student:
    * Preferred majors: Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Bioengineering.

    * Preferred coursework: Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular biology, Biochemistry

    * Minimum GPA: 3.4

    * Qualifications:
    - Prior lab experience is not required but is a plus.
    - Strong willingness to learn new techniques and not be afraid to work with mice.
    - A successful candidate will follow directions precisely and pay close attention to details.

    Honors College/GPPA students will be given priority.

    Students who are motivated and have experience in our lab will become eligible to work half- or full-time during the summer as hourly paid employees.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    We are looking for students who desire a long-term laboratory experience in preparation for admission into graduate school or medical school.

    Time commitment:
    We are expecting students to commit to working in the lab ~12 hours per week and to be able to be in the lab for periods of 3 to 5 hours per day on at least two consecutive days.

    Classroom is the priority for a student. But we expect students to be at work on time and to devote work time to work tasks.

    Sophomores: We are looking for students who are willing to commit to working in the lab for 2+ years, pending an initial evaluation period.

    Juniors need prior research experience in specific research areas (e.g. standard molecular biology techniques like PCR and cloning, or working with mice).

    * Training plan:
    Initially, you will learn basic lab techniques and assist with routine maintenance of the lab. You will then choose a specific project to work on that is appropriate for your time commitment, skill set, and research interest.

    We also expect candidates to enhance their experience by immersing themselves in the scientific background/literature relevant to the lab’s research. High-performing students may get the chance to present their research at seminars and meetings.

    NOTE: This researcher is currently not accepting applications for the Undergraduate Research Experience program.

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