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K-State Today

June 8, 2011

Summer heats up with research experiences for undergraduates at K-State

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

More than 125 college students from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico are taking part in select summer research experience programs at Kansas State University. Research areas include ecological genomics, ecology, bioenergy, sustainability, climate change and leading edge studies in chemistry, mathematics and physics.

The goal of the programs is to provide students with a quality research experience under the mentorship of K-State faculty and to increase interest in pursuing scientific careers, said Carol Shanklin, dean of K-State's Graduate School.

"These summer research experiences support K-State's 2025 goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by expanding research opportunities," Shanklin said. "They are excellent recruitment tools for our graduate programs since the students get to experience working in a team environment with their faculty mentor and our current graduate students for nine to 10 weeks.  At the end of their experience they present their research to their peers and research team."

While at K-State many of the students will participate in weekly seminars coordinated by the Graduate School and attend special networking events. They include sessions on learning how to apply for graduate school, funding to support graduate education, preparing to do research and how to document research. Field trips include visits to K-State's Konza Prairie Biological Station and to the Kansas Cosmosphere and the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson.

Summer research experiences being offered include:

* Research for Undergraduate Experiences, known as REUs, which are supported by the National Science Foundation. This year's experiences are being offered in biology, including ecology, evolution and genomics of grassland organisms and in ecological genomics; physics, studying laser-matter interactions at the atomic and nanoscales; mathematics; chemical engineering, including a Summer Academy in Sustainable Bioenergy and a sustainable energy experience; chemistry; and climate change. K-State faculty coordinators include Bruce Snyder, Ari Jumpponen, Brett Sandercock and Samantha Wisely, biology; Kristan Corwin and Larry Weaver, physics; Larry Erickson, Keith Hohn, Kieth Rutlin and Mary Rezac, chemical engineering; Marianne Korten, David Yetter, and Charles Moore, mathematics; Chris Culbertson, chemistry; and Chuck Rice, climate change.

* Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, known as SUROP, sponsored by the K-State Graduate School. The program gives undergraduates from underrepresented groups a firsthand experience with the research process in their chosen field of interest. The experience helps students prepare for graduate school and other advanced study. Coordinators include Shanklin, and Megan Miller and Tammy Sonnentag, both doctoral students in psychology.

* Summer Undergraduate Residency in Public Health, a component of the Pathways to Public Health and funded by the Kansas Health Foundation. Students are exposed to problem solving in the context of real-world situations related to the four master of public health program emphasis areas: food safety, infectious disease/zoonoses, human nutrition and physical activity. Coordinators include Kimathi Choma, director of the undergraduate public health program, and Beth Montelone, professor of biology and program director for One Health Kansas.

* Kansas State Research and Extension Summer Program, sponsored by the College of Agriculture. Coordinator is Zelia Wiley, the college's assistant dean for diversity.

More information on the programs is available at http://www.k-state.edu/grad/gshome/summerprog.htm.