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Undergraduates Traveling Across the Nation for Summer Research Experiences

Seven UK undergraduates are spending their summer conducting research at institutions across the nation. The students were each selected to be a participant in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the REU program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in areas supported by the NSF. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed specifically for the REU program.  

The UK students awarded REUs for the summer of 2013 are:

  • Matthew Fahrbach, a computer science and mathematics junior, University of Washington
  • Sarah Hayden, a political science, classics, and history senior, University of North Texas
  • Kendall Huddleston, a chemical engineering junior, University of Kentucky
  • Tamas Nagy, a biology and computer science junior, University of California – Berkeley
  • Joe Papp, a chemical engineering junior, University of Kentucky
  • Rachel Newcomb, a biology sophomore,  Duke University 
  • Michelle Pressly, a chemical engineering junior, University of Kentucky

The Research Experience for Undergraduates program will allow each student to work on a research project this summer, although no two experiences will be alike.

Sarah Hayden, will be studying Civil Conflict Management and Peace Science at the University of North Texas. “Political science has always been my main passion,” Hayden says. “I find human behavior in general fascinating, but particularly the way we organize ourselves – under what laws, norms, and methods of interaction.” The program requires Hayden to attend a conference an present the project she completes. She hopes that opportunity will help her gain acceptance into graduate school. Hayden plans to pursue a Ph.D. in international relations.

Tamas Nagy will be traveling to the University of California – Berkeley to participate in cutting-edge research. Nagy says this opportunity will allow him to merge his academic interests. “I have been fascinated by both computers and biochemistry since a young age and wanted to combine my two interests.” Nagy plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry or computational biology.

Michelle Pressly won’t have to travel for her program. She is participating in an REU at the University of Kentucky in Kim Anderson’s lab in Chemical Engineering. Pressly says she has always been good at math and science but thought Chemical Engineering would offer a lot of opportunities to help people. “I’m doing the Biopharmaceutical Track of Chemical Engineering because I thought I would enjoy helping people in a direct way with the development of treatments or drugs,” said Pressly. Although Pressly is unsure of her future plans, she knows that the research experience is going to be beneficial. “[The summer REU] is going to help me focus on what I want for a career.”

Fahrbach, Hayden, Nagy and Papp all participated in the Chellgren Student Fellows Program, a sophomore enrichment program that provides experiences for outstanding undergraduates that go beyond classroom instruction. Students in the Fellows Program participate in undergraduate research, community engagement, and academic enrichment activities. Tamas Nagy credits the Chellgren Fellows Program with introducing the REU opportunity to him. “The Chellgren fellowship provided me with information about this opportunity at UC Berkeley,” said the REU participant. “It also helped me to be surrounded by like-minded, motivated individuals.”

Students who are interested in pursuing a Research Experience for Undergraduates should visit the National Science Foundation’s website.

For additional assistance with finding a research mentor or applying for a summer research experience, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Office of External Scholarships (OES). The Office of Undergraduate Research provides coordination, leadership and support for the varied programs at UK designed to encourage, engage, and support the undergraduate research enterprise, thus enhancing the overall academic experience and future success of students. The office is the starting point for any undergraduate student desiring to include faculty-mentored research in their undergraduate experience.

 The Office of External Scholarships assists current students and recent alumni in applying for scholarships and fellowships funded by sources outside the university. Specifically, OES helps students strengthen an application, develop a personal statement, practice for an interview and provides other preparation activities for the scholarship application process. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with Pat Whitlow well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

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