Thursday, June 26, 2014

Faces of SRAP: Natalie

From: Wyoming

Ravichander and Natalie
Natalie Blaise, a junior from Guernsey, Wyoming loves science.

“I just like it a lot,” she says. “I really like my teachers, Mrs. Watson, and Mr. Beck.”

Her love of science and her experience with good teachers has inspired her to think about a career as a science teacher.

For her Summer Research Apprentice Program project, Natalie’s research has serious, real-world application possibilities.

“I’m in the Chemistry department, and right now we’re working with a process called ELISA,” Natalie says. “It detects certain proteins that you might have in a mixture.”

Natalie is working in Dr. Debashis Dutta’s lab, with Ravichander Peesara.

“ELISA is a quantitative technique that can detect various biologically important proteins, such as cancer markers” says Ravichander. “We are trying to develop ELISA so that it can better detect proteins in as low concentrations as possible, making it more helpful to patients.”

SRAP is a six-week, intensive research program for high school students. It is based at the University of Wyoming and is sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR. To learn more about the program, click here, or search "SRAP" in the archives. 

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo by Robert Waggener

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Faces of SRAP: Quintoria

From: Mississippi

Quintoria Ingram, a high school senior from Mississippi, is spending her summer studying something she’s always been interested in – psychology.

“I’m researching depression and how it can affect teens,” Quintoria says. “I hope to learn the different effects that depression can have on different types of people.”

Quintoria is working under Dr. Josh Clapp, with Josh Kemp, a graduate student in the Psychology department during the six-week Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP).

Josh Kemp and Quintoria
Along with learning about psychology and the effects depression has on various people, Dr. Clapp and Josh Kemp want Quintoria to learn about the research process and find a passion in it.

“I want her to learn how to conduct research using actual search databases, looking through different research articles, and then how to evaluate those articles,” says Josh. “I hope she finds a passion in it and learns that research is a little more fun.”

The experience Quintoria is getting will help her in her future, as she follows her passion.

“I plan on going to Jackson State University and I want to be a therapist,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to do something along the lines of therapy.”

SRAP is a six-week, intensive research program for high school students. It is based at the University of Wyoming and is sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR. To learn more about the program, click here, or search "SRAP" in the archives.

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo by Robert Waggener

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Faces of SRAP: Caroline

From: Tennessee

Much like other students her age, Caroline, a recent high school graduate, plans to attend college. But unlike other students, Caroline will have an added benefit when she attends the University of Tennessee in the fall – hands-on research experience.  

Dr. Andy Parsekian and Caroline
This summer, Caroline will be working with Dr. Andrew Parsekian, in the department of Geology and Geophysics, as part of the Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP).

“Caroline will be working on a hydrogeophysics project using ground penetrating radar (GPR) to study tree roots,” says Dr. Parsekian. “We’re building this experiment from the ground up.”

Caroline plans to study geology when she goes to college, and her interests make her well suited for the field.

“I’m specifically interested in planetary science,” she says. “My ideal career would be being a professor at the same time as being a research scientist.”

Caroline is excited to study hydrogeophysics this summer and looks forward to the challenges ahead.

“I’m most excited about getting my hands dirty and really getting into research,” she says. “I’ve never really done anything like this before.”

SRAP is a six-week, intensive research program for high school students. It is based at the University of Wyoming and is sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR. To learn more about the program, click here, or search “SRAP” in the archives.

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo by Robert Waggener

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The 2014 Summer Research Apprentice Program Begins!

SRAP student Holden meets
his mentor, Franco Basile
With the school year coming to a close, many students are preparing for summer jobs, vacations and relaxation. But for 22 students from around the United States, their summer plans include gearing up for the 2014 Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP), a 6-week, intensive research program at the University of Wyoming.

On June 8th, students arrived in Laramie, WY to begin a summer of research, education and fun. Each student was placed in a lab to work with a mentor, to spend the next six weeks conducting research and learning new concepts. Participating departments on campus represent a diverse array of STEM fields including botany, engineering, psychology, hydrology, geology and geophysics. At the end of the program, each student will write an in-depth research paper and present their research to their peers and mentors.
SRAP 2014 Staff and Program Coordinator, Lisa Abeyta (right)
 “SRAP is a great program to introduce high school students into college life,” says Lisa Abeyta, Student Research Programs Coordinator. “This program not only allows students to gain experience in the lab, but also to gain a sense of independence.”

Over 200 students applied for a spot in the 29th annual SRAP program. Of that, twenty-two exceptional students were chosen to participate.

Outside of the lab, students will create friendships with other participants, take educational field trips, and enjoy all that Laramie and the surrounding area has to offer.

Last year, students hiked the trails at Vedauwoo, visited the Denver Zoo, took part in an etiquette dinner and practiced yoga, along with other fun activities. Many additional activities are planned for students this year, including a night at the Jelm Mountain Observatory outside Laramie.

SRAP 2014 participants
SRAP is Wyoming EPSCoR’s longest running program. It was started in 1985 to provide minority and first-generation, college-bound students with hands-on experience in the STEM fields.

“We are proud of SRAP and the students that have come through the program,” Lisa says. “Students have gone on to pursue their goals and achieve their dreams.”

Stay tuned to our blog this summer for weekly highlights on SRAP participants and their research! You can read all about past participants by searching “SRAP” in our archives.

By Robin Rasmussen
Photos by Robin Rasmussen and Robert Waggener

Friday, June 6, 2014

University of Wyoming/Jackson State University Summer Field Course Wrap-Up

Two weeks ago, students from the University of Wyoming traveled to Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi to participate in the UW/JSU Summer Field Course, where they studied ecology, hydrology and geophysics. Throughout the course, students got to work with instructors from the University of Wyoming and Jackson State University, both in the lab and in the field.

Students collect field data
“My favorite part of the course was having a hands-on experience,” says Dominique Williams, a senior at JSU, and a course participant. “It’s quite different, getting your hands on something instead of just reading about it in books.”

Students in the course learned how to collect data using geophysics tools, including seismic and resistivity equipment, to create an image of what’s underground. This hands-on experience makes this course unique and challenging, and gives students an in-depth look at how research is done.
“We made several trips to Eagle Lake, in Vicksburg Mississippi, to run a series of tests with different equipment, which was awesome!” says Dominique. “When we came in from the field we went straight into the labs and ran data analysis on the data that we had collected throughout the day.”

Dominique is studying Civil Engineering and plans to continue her education after she completes her undergraduate degree.

“After graduation I plan on going to graduate school to get my masters,” she says. “My long-term goal would be to find a great civil engineering company and to grow in my field of study.”

 Last year, participants from JSU traveled to Laramie, WY for the Summer Field Course. The vast difference in climate and landscape makes this course a unique learning experience for all participants.

“This year’s course at JSU continued an important collaboration in ecology, hydrology and geophysics between UW and JSU,” says Dr. Steve Holbrook, a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Holbrook traveled to JSU as an instructor for the course.

“Much of our work focused on determining the structure and ecological function around an important levee in the lower Mississippi River valley, called Buck Chute. For that work, we established a new collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, MS. Using geophysics, we were able to image a sandy aquifer that runs beneath the levee – which sources dangerous ‘sand boils’ that can undermine the levee during flood stages of the river.”
Dr. Steve Holbrook prepares students

Overall, students and professors enjoyed this year’s field course.  

“I would definitely recommend this course to any and everyone!” says Dominique. “This course offers so much that I wish it was longer!”

"All aspects of the course were successful," Dr. Holbrook says. "I think the students learned a lot and, once again, friendships were forged between UW and JSU students."

By Robin Rasmussen
Photos by Liz Nysson