When the University of Michigan ramped down most of its research programs in mid-March, the third cohort of Michigan Life Sciences Fellows was just ramping up.

Three of the six new fellows had arrived on campus before U-M paused most laboratory research activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two more have started since then and one more will arrive this summer, in the midst of the research re-engagement process.

The Michigan Life Sciences Fellows program is designed to recruit exceptional early-career scientists and provide the resources they need to prepare for ground-breaking independent research careers.

The program — a partnership across the Medical School, Life Sciences Institute, College of Pharmacy and LSA, with funding from the U-M Biosciences Initiative and donors — provides fellows with a compensation package and funding for research and travel, along with skill-building resources in areas such as lab management, scientific writing and oral presentations.

The program also fosters another valuable resource for its fellows: a built-in network that connects new fellows with both their own cohort and previous cohorts.

“I think we all have really benefited from the connection we have to other peers in the program,” says Brittany Morgan, a May-Walt Michigan Life Sciences Fellow at the Life Sciences Institute and member of the program’s first cohort.

“It was important to us to ensure that connection didn’t stop just because we couldn’t be onsite, and especially to ensure that the connection was in place as our newest fellows are adjusting to their new positions and establishing new research projects.”

The newest fellows include:

  • Michael Kalyuzhny, who will work with Annette Ostling in LSA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
  • Einar Olafsson, who is working with Vernon Carruthers in the Medical School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
  • Pilar Rivero Rio, who is working with Lois Weisman at the Life Sciences Institute.
  • Catherine Scull, who will work in the lab of Nils Walter in LSA’s Department of Chemistry.
  • Carolyn Walsh, who will work in the lab of Ormond MacDougald in the Medical School’s Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology.
  • Mingmin Zhang, who is working in the lab of Shawn Xu at the Life Sciences Institute.