Funded Summer 2017 Opportunity- Sichuan, China (Schistosomiasis Research Group)

/ / Fellowships and Grant Opportunities

Seeking a graduate student for a practicum/internship in Sichuan Province, China, working with qPCR diagnostics for schistosomiasis. The student will build on the longstanding collaboration between Professor Robert Spear and former students with the Sichuan Institute of Parasitic Disease (SIPD) most recently addressing detection of Schistosoma japonicum in natural water bodies.

The student will work with SIPD lab scientists to optimize the qPCR protocol with cercariae released by laboratory snails. The student will then assist with construction of a laboratory rig for collecting cercariae under stable flow with mesh filter material. Filters will then be processed for maximum yield of cercariae and measured via microscopy and standardized qPCR protocol.

Upon completion of these objectives, student will experiment with “dirty” samples, including sand, soil, and other parasite contaminants. Student will work with lab scientists to adapt and improve protocols for sample processing and measuring S. japonicum cercariae. There is the potential for field work, pending time and student interest, which may include work with other researchers to obtain environmental samples from irrigation ditches and other water bodies for processing and enumeration with the qPCR lab protocol.

Funding will be provided up to $5000 to include housing and travel to/from Sichuan Province, China, and modest project supplies. Training for working with environmental samples will occur in the spring, and student will meet with Dr. Spear and other students before summer to prepare for the summer practicum. There is the potential to co-author a peer-reviewed publication, pending project completion.

Required qualifications:

  • Graduate or advanced undergraduate student in public health, environmental science,

    molecular biology, or related discipline

  • Experience working in a lab environment and with wet lab protocols, particularly


  • Ability to live and work in a foreign country for 8-12 weeks

    Desired qualifications:

  • Chinese language proficiency
  • Experience working with environmental samples
  • Motivation to advance research field

    To apply: Email letter of interest and CV to Dr. Robert Spear ( no later than January 23, 2017 (note that the deadline has been extended – contact Dr. Spear for details). Applications will be reviewed and finalists interviewed in person or by phone. A final decision will be made by February 13, 2017.