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JGI Scholars Reflect on Their Summer Projects

November 12, 2020

Over the course of eight weeks this past summer, 10 students (5 undergraduate and 5 graduate) from UC Merced worked closely with JGI scientists on research projects that contribute to the larger mission of the U.S. Department of Energy. Students also worked with their mentors to practice and develop presentation skills as well as build their network in the field of genomics and scientific research.

The topics students worked on ranged far and wide — from implementing new data visualization tools to using natural language processing techniques to categorize genetic information. Learn more about their work here in a series of videos produced by JGI Communications & Outreach intern Ashleigh Papp.


These are the five projects conducted by UROC JGI Scholars:

Evaluating new ways to categorize metagenomic information
Sidharth Babu (undergraduate) and Zhong Wang

Unpacking large, structural variation data sets
Brendan Blasius (undergraduate) and Guohong “Albert” Wu

Exploring “junk” DNA in biofuel grasses
Jacob Espinosa (undergraduate) and Virginia Scarlett

Implementing a new data visualization tool
Edgar Jimenez (undergraduate) and Sharon Greenblum and Matt Mingay

Understanding plants through single-cell transcriptomics
Lorenzo Scaturchio (undergraduate) and Benjamin Cole


The students participated in this internship remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, but virtual events and technology enabled a fruitful experience for mentors and students alike. Tools like Slack, Google Docs, and GitHub enabled virtual collaboration. JGI also hosted events to enable students to showcase their work and even a celebratory toast at the end of the summer.

The JGI-UC Merced internship program was founded in 2014 with the goal of inspiring students to embark on a career in genomics and to help foster a diverse future workforce in science. Since the program’s inception, more than 30 students have contributed to the research of JGI scientists.

Check out the short videos highlighting the exciting work done by the 2020 cohort of JGI-UC Merced interns.


This partnership for undergraduate scholars is supported by the UC Merced NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) alliance through the UC System, NSF CAMP-California Alliance for Minority Participation. The UC alliance is one of over 30 NSF LSAMP Alliances nationwide. This year our statewide office transitioned from UC Irvine ( to UC Riverside ( under the direction of Dr. Richard Cardullo.