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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Eighteen students selected for new Early Undergraduate Research Program

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Eighteen students will conduct research with faculty mentors for eight weeks this summer in the new Southwest Indiana STEM (SwISTEM) Early Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Southern Indiana.

The selected students are completing their freshman year at USI or Ivy Tech Community College, Southwest this spring. The program is designed to engage students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in hands-on research early in their college careers.

Dr. Scott A. Gordon, dean of the USI Pott College of Science and Engineering, said the research program supports the college's vision of engaging students, promoting a team approach to learning, creating a more nurturing faculty, increasing retention and graduation rates, and producing highly qualified innovative undergraduate STEM majors.

He said many students who leave STEM majors cite the lack of hands-on engagement early in their undergraduate careers. Others complete a degree in a STEM discipline but find themselves unprepared upon entering the workforce to connect classroom learning with real-world problem solving and research.

The program is funded by a portion of a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant funded the creation of the SwISTEM Initiative, a partnership of USI and Ivy Tech Community College, Southwest, to help the region and the state develop a workforce with the skills to compete in today's economy.

The students and faculty will pursue research this summer (May 11-July 3), continue their relationship during the 2009-10 academic year, and participate in another eight-week summer program in 2010. Students will receive a $3,000 stipend for each summer in addition to room and board in USI campus housing. Faculty research leaders also will receive a summer stipend.

During the summer program, all faculty and student participants will meet on Fridays for a seminar, providing updates on research progress. Speakers from business and industry will address the students. The program also will include field trips to area STEM industries.

Funds are available from the NSF grant to purchase supplies for research and fund student travel to professional meetings to present research results.

The following students and USI faculty research leaders will work together in ongoing research projects.

Phillip Behrens, biology (M.D./Ph.D), Newburgh, Indiana Jessica Lingafelter, biology (pre-medicine), Wadesville, Indiana and Alexandra McDaniel, biology (pre-medicine), Evansville - Dr. Brent Summers, assistant professor of biology.

Chris Grathler, geology, Evansville - Carrie Wright, instructor in geology.

Rebecca Reynolds, biology, Carmel, Indiana and Daniel Shigley, biology (pre-medicine), Elberfeld, Indiana - Dr. Edie Hardcastle, assistant professor of biology.

Eva Beabout, chemistry (pre-pharmacy), Seymour, Indiana and Ezekial Setne, a student at Ivy Tech Community College, Southwest, Evansville - Dr. Edmir Wade, assistant professor of chemistry

Cody McGill, engineering, Boonville, Indiana - Dr. Glen Kissel, assistant professor of engineering

Christopher Baumgart, biology (pre-medicine), Evansville and Evan Niemeier, biology (pre-medicine), Evansville - Dr. Henri Maurice, associate professor of biology.

Andy Frazee, chemistry (pre-medicine), Evansville - Dr. Jeannie Collins, associate professor of chemistry.

Ryan Hicks, mathematics, Evansville - Dr. John Donnelly, assistant professor of mathematics.

Brad Roberts, chemistry (pre-medicine), Mount Vernon, Indiana - Dr. Kenneth E. Walsh, assistant professor of chemistry

Brandon Spainhour, engineering, Evansville, and Joseph Vangampler, engineering, Evansville - Dr. Marco Lara Gracia, assistant professor of engineering

Prince Nzeata, biology (pre-medicine), Merrillville, Indiana - Dr. Priya Hewavitharanage, assistant professor of chemistry

Logan Storrer, engineering, Evansville - Dr. Ronald W. Diersing, assistant professor of engineering

Eighteen additional students will be chosen next spring to begin the two-year program in summer 2010. The NSF grant will fund the research program for five years.

For more information, including a description of faculty research areas, visit

Betty Vawter
News & Information Services

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