This summer, 13 undergraduate students from across the U.S. invested their time to participate in the NARA Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) and assist NARA researchers in a wide array of studies.
NARA has sponsored undergraduate students through the WSU-SURE program since 2012. Each year, the pool of undergraduate applicants gets larger due to the program’s exposure at major conferences and on websites like the Pathways to Science. For the 2015 session, 93 applications were received. Approximately 20% of the applicants learned about the program from their academic advisor, 46% from searching the internet, and 22% from Pathways to Science website. Demographics of 2015 applicants were 49% women, 51% men; and 12% Hispanic, 2% Native American, 10% African American, 19% Asian/Pacific Islander/Filipino, 3% multicultural, and 45% Caucasian. Applications were received from 68 different schools.
From the 93 applicants, 13 were placed with NARA mentors at five locations: Washington State University (Pullman), Washington State University (Tri-Cities), The University of Idaho’s McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS), University of Washington, and Pennsylvania State University. The students, their undergraduate institution and a link to posters that describe their work are listed below.
Providing research opportunities for undergraduate students can be an effective way to motivate students for further study. A 2003 survey of undergraduates who participated in summer research programs indicated that 91% reported that their research experience sustained or increased their interest in postgraduate education (Lopatto 2004). The research can also expand a student’s education and interests. Andrea Guzman, a biological science student who plans to enter the health care industry, developed lessons for high school students. Three other students also designed lesson plans under Karla Eitel’s mentoring at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) and helped transfer NARA’s science into K-12 classrooms.
Read more about Andrea’s experience here
The SURE program not only provides quality students to perform NARA research, but also exposes motivated STEM students to the challenges of supplying alternative biofuels into the marketplace. This exposure may create professionals who can provide solutions and will certainly increase the pool of citizens who understand alternative biofuel research and potential.
Applications for the NARA SURE 2016 program will be available in November 2016. For further information, view here.
Lopatto, David. (2004). Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE): First Findings. Cell Biol Educ., 3(4), 270-277.