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SURE scholars share fruits of summer research

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences program offers top students stipends to work closely for eight weeks with Elon faculty.

SURE scholar Rachel Wilson discusses her research into certain protein interactions in two prostate cancer cell lines.

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Dozens of Elon University’s top students shared with classmates and professors on Thursday morning detailed updates on research conducted this summer as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences program.

Research topics ranged from using music to connect with autistic children, to the effects of nicotine on gastrointestinal disease, to women’s motivations for “pre-gaming” in college by drinking alcohol prior to leaving their homes for evenings with friends.

The July 26 presentations on the second floor of Alamance building were followed by a banquet in McCoy Commons to honor their efforts. Forty-five undergraduate researchers conducted research this summer, in some instances laying the groundwork for additional scholarship over the next three years, and in other instances planning the next stages of projects underway for well over a year.

They represented 15 departments from the School of Communications and from Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

SURE scholar Andrew Fischer worked this summer on a research project on the dominant oxidation pathway of dopamine and arachidonic acid in Parkinson's disease.

“Participation in programs like undergraduate research offers you the opportunity to bridge the classroom to practice,” Professor Paul Miller, director of undergraduate research at Elon, told students in remarks during the banquet. “It forces you to become an active contributor to your chosen field and, I hope, helps you become an inquisitive, lifelong learner.

“You will never understand your discipline as well as when you are attempting to answer the lingering questions through active discovery and creative endeavors.”

The public presentations offered students the opportunity for feedback on their methodologies and to identify additional questions to explore.

Nor are the benefits limited just to undergraduate researchers. Professor Linda Wilmshurst, mentor to senior Francesca Simpson on a project that looks into collegiate athletes with attention problems, said that working with students like Simpson over several years allows faculty to forge close relationships with protégés.

Simpson herself was equally enthused with the opportunity to conduct research this summer.

“There are times when you question how something will come out, and when you get a response that is more than you expect, it’s rewarding,” said Simpson, a psychology major from Chapel Hill, N.C., with hopes of attending graduate school.

Founded in 1997, the SURE program pays top Elon undergraduate researchers a stipend of at least $3,000 to spend eight weeks on campus each summer collaborating with a faculty mentor on emerging research questions. Projects supported by this program exhibit the potential for scholarly publication or presentation.

The inaugural September Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE) at Elon University will take place Sept. 14 from 2-5 p.m. SURE scholars will again present their research, this time in a conference-style environment.
 

Eric Townsend,
Staff
7/26/2012 4:59 PM