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By Clark Davis
May 15, 2012 · Undergraduate students working as researchers everyday doesn’t usually happen during a semester, but 11 students are getting the opportunity this summer at Marshall University in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.
Eleven undergraduate students have been selected to receive the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Fellowship which provides each student with a $4,000 stipend and supplies for their research.
Marshall has participated in the SURE program since 2005. Michael Norton is a chemistry professor at Marshall and Director of the SURE program. He said the program lets the students experience research in a new way.
“Instead of trying to come in and interweave it between classes, they can come in, in the morning, and set something up. Some experiences take two hours just to set up and you can’t even imagine doing that during the normal semester, but during the summer time it can be something that you do it on Monday it fails, you do it on Tuesday it fails, because failure is a real part of research,” Norton said.
The program is funded through the West Virginia Research Challenge Fund and is administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Division of Science and Research. SURE participants conduct their work during a 10-week time period starting this week and running through July 27. Norton said a program like this allows the students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise receive.
“It’s really great to see the transformation where the program or the project becomes that students and they start asking questions and they start asking how can I do this better and they may even get into reading some literature that maybe their mentor has not read and they can really be full time contributors and that’s why I think SURE is a really great program to have,” Norton said.
Samantha Adkins is a senior psychology major and is one of the students chosen. She’s looking at physiological characteristics of academic success in college students. She said it’s allowing her to do more in-depth into research.
“To be able to just jump into and do it from more of a hands on environment means a lot more and it helps me to understand the project more on a deeper level and it helps me understand the research I’m reading, the literature review. It helps me understand just in general the things I’m exposed to,” Adkins said.
Adkins said she hopes to get a few things out of the summer research.
“I hope to get a lot out of this, obviously experience being the biggest thing, I’ll be applying to grad school soon so having that experience already will help me to just jump into a lab, hopefully with someone, and contribute to their research in a better way; having that experience beforehand will help them not need to hold my hand as long,” Adkins said.
Abigail Hayes is a senior biomedical science major looking at functional neuroanatomy and behavior in the central nervous system of a crayfish. She said it’s exciting to be a part of this research environment.
“I’ll be able to try a lot of new techniques that are really time consuming so, you wouldn’t be able to do them during the school year; so now that I have the whole summer I’ll be able to learn those and try a lot of different stuff with the animals, with the crayfish, that I wouldn’t have been able to do during the year,” Hayes said.
Derek Collins is evaluating the effect of carnosine on cytochrome c glycation or how an amino acid-carnosine effects sugars or glycation in diabetes cases.
“Some of the research that we were looking at that’s already been published says that carnosine makes things anti-glycate, but the initial research that we have is showing that it actually glycates faster so we want to look more in-depth in it,” Collins said.
The director of the program Michael Norton said the program can be a learning experience in many ways.
“I do kind of view it as valuable if a student determines research is not the kind of life that I would want to live. I’d prefer that they choose that research is a great area for them, but I don’t really view it as a failure if a student decides after their experience that research isn’t for them,” Norton said.
Norton said the program has continued to progress since its inception in 2005.
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