Undergraduate program opens doors to a new creative scholarship


By Shea Stewart

University of Mississippi Communications

Fifteen UM undergraduates studied new areas of research or creative scholarships as part of the university’s undergraduate research group’s summer scholarship program. At the end of the program, the students discussed their research in a poster presentation. Photo by Shea Stewart / UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Sydni Davis found herself rewarding new territory this summer.

The University of Mississippi A sophomore student from Tupelo spent the summer interviewing black women, gaining valuable experience with ethnographic methods as part of a summer research project.

“I’m proud of myself for collecting my data and conducting interviews,” said Davis, a African American studies Major. “This experience gave me the confidence to pursue more research. Diving into this headlong I had no idea how I was going to get out of it, but I proved to myself how capable I was. “

Davis was among 15 UM undergraduates who explored new areas of research or creative scholarships, or deepened their existing knowledge, as part of the university’s curriculum. Summer scholarship program for undergraduate research groups, which is funded by the Office of the Provost and administered by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The 8-10 week scholarship program allows students to conduct individual research projects and creative scholarships throughout the summer with a faculty member as a mentor.

The program also prepares faculty collaborators to submit competitive external funding proposals for undergraduate research activities by designing and conducting a pilot summer program in a thematic area of ​​interest to the faculty team. .

Jared Barnes, a Biology graduate from Grenada, was a member of the Ole Miss Nanoengineering Summer REU program, designed for undergraduates to enhance their research activities in the Engineering school and help collaborations between early career and established faculty. Hosted by the Department of Biomedical Engineering, students were able to choose from research projects in one of the following three areas: nanobiotechnology, computer nanoengineering and sustainable nanoengineering.

Barnes’ research subject was investigating a biodegradable drug delivery system for the sequential release of psychoactive drugs.

“I wanted to pursue this subject because I have always had a strong interest in the field of psychology,” he said. “On top of that, I plan to be a doctor someday and want to help tackle many of the health disparities present today.

“This topic addresses this problem by providing a cheaper and more convenient option for patients who require repeated drug administration therapy.”

His project involved working with different drug delivery films, including the application of parafilm and wax coating on polymer films, to further examine durable film coatings and how they can be handled. to better release the drug doses.

“It was my first research experience of taking data on my own and feeling like I played a vital role in research throughout the summer,” said Barnes, who plans to attend the ‘UM Medical Center after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. “That being said, I really developed a passion and love for research with now an open mind to the possibility of doing more in the future.”

Davis’ oral history project was conducted under the direction of researchers at Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

She was one of three students participating in the summer research experiment that used interdisciplinary approaches to the study of race, power, and place identity.

The program benefited students by honing their methodological skills and better preparing them for writing and presenting their findings.

Students, who were also exposed to key differences, debates and overlaps in methodologies, were encouraged and instructed on how to prepare reports for submission to the peer-reviewed journal. Studying the South Where Mississippi Stories.

Davis’s summer research project culminated in “Soul Food and Soul Searching,” an exploration of how the relationship between food in black culture and racialized beauty standards can lead to eating disorders in black women. .

“I chose this project because I saw the effects of eating disorder symptoms and Eurocentric beauty standards in my own body and my life,” she said. “Black women are often the ‘others’, which means we are easily ostracized, especially in the areas of beauty and health.

“I have felt the effects of beauty standards that I will never quite meet because they weren’t meant for me in the first place. My hope for this project is to give a voice to black women, so that we may speak for ourselves. ”

Davis plans to pursue masters and doctoral studies in museum studies in hopes of becoming a museum director and inspiring young black women and bringing more inclusion to the museum world.

For Santana Amaker’s summer research project, Biloxi’s computer science and international studies major studied denial of service attacks using a device capable of transmitting or receiving radio signals designed to test and develop modern and next-generation radio technologies.

She was one of five students who collaborated with mentors in the Department of Computer and Information Science on projects involving cybersecurity research methods that exposed students to various security risks and mitigation strategies.

Through the summer research experience, Amaker created a program that enables denial of service attacks.

“I believe the experience has helped me become a better researcher by allowing me to become more independent in my learning,” said Amaker, whose interests include studying vulnerabilities in wireless devices.

“With this program, I had a lot of responsibility to do my research independently and look to my teacher for help when I faced a difficult problem, rather than every step of the way. I think this is much closer to what I will experience working in the tech industry, which is why I see this program as an invaluable opportunity.

Four students participated in the Department of Chemical EngineeringThe Snazzy Surfaces for Students program, which offered talented undergraduates the opportunity to join the multidisciplinary Surfaces and Interfaces team to acquire key research skills.

Students learned about surfaces, interfaces and material development, and used university quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation, a highly sensitive balance that can detect changes in mass at the molecular level using a quartz crystal, which registers tiny deviations in frequencies and loss of energy.

The program taught students research know-how, creativity and innovative skills, which are fully transferable to future careers in industry or in STEM research.

One of those students in the program was Jack Flanders, a junior psychology and biochemistry student from Munford, Tennessee, whose research topic was exploring the adsorption of proteins on ionic-capped liquid nanoparticles.

“These nanoparticles have shown a wide variety of potential medical applications; However, to be used effectively, we need a better idea of ​​exactly how nanoparticles interact with proteins in the body, ”said Flanders, who plans to attend medical school specializing in psychiatry. “I was able to start my own research project, which will lay the foundations for my thesis.

“This program taught me a lot about how rewarding research can be. The long hours and extra work are worth it when you have good data to prove. “

Over 50 undergraduates have participated in the program, which started in 2018 and equips participants with valuable knowledge and skills while expanding and enhancing the university’s undergraduate research and creative achievement efforts.

Student production results in or contributes to a meaningful end product, such as a presentation of creative work or a publishable article.

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