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  1. Our experience managing conflicting needs for a summer Research Experience for Undergraduate program. 
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  2. This paper describes a preliminary analysis of a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site sponsored by the biomedical engineering department at a large public institution in the southwest United States. Data were compiled from the 2018 and 2019 cohorts of the program.Twenty-four participants from different undergraduate majors and universities were selected from competitive applicant pools, paired with a research mentor in the department, and tracked over each program’s duration. The participants were given a 37-question survey upon arrival and after the completion of the 10-week summer program (i.e., pre-test and post-test). These questions were broadly split among four categories to evaluate the participants’ comfort with (1) scientific writing, (2) scientific presentation, and students’ strength of association with the identities and careers of (3) researchers and (4) engineers. Students reported significant increases in their scientific writing skills and tended to identify more as researchers after the program. Conversely, students noted little change in their ability to present in a scientific setting and reported that their identity as engineers was not stronger. Separate focus groups with the visiting scholars and their graduate student mentors were conducted after the program to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current iteration of the REU program. Possible improvements to the REU are proposed at the end of the paper. 
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  3. Introduction: The lack of an appropriate in vitro model of the tumor microenvironment is one of the largest obstacles in evaluating preclinical cancer drug screenings.1 Cancer cell monolayers do not effectively mimic the limited drug penetration properties of the complex tumor structures found in cancer patients. 3-D multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS) serve as a more effective model as they better resemble cancer in structure as well as limited drug penetration. In our experiments, we created heterospheroids composed of 4T1 breast tumor cells and 3T3 fibroblasts, as well as homospheroids of each cell type. Tumors feature stromal and extracellular matrix components in addition to cancer cells in ratios that vary between different types of cancer. Fibroblasts are the major component of cancer stroma as well as producers of extracellular matrix. Since heterospheroids feature 3T3 fibroblasts, they may better model the diverse tumor microenvironment.2 We also synthesized fluorescent PLGA nanoparticles that were added to our spheroid cultures. Using confocal microscopy and ImageJ’s fluorescence measuring tools, we qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated the drug penetration properties of our spheroids. 
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