Friday, June 21, 2013

Fairmont State University has selected five student research projects for funding under the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program.

Sara Davis, Jennifer Goggins, Courtney Swiger and Ian Williams have been named to hold the University’s prestigious SURE fellowships. They each will receive a stipend of $2,400 to conduct their projects between May 13 and June 30, 2013. Completed projects will be presented at the Celebration of Student Scholarship in April 2014.

“We are delighted to support these five students in their summer work. Undergraduate research promotes deep student learning and encourages students to become more independent in their thinking, writing and presentation of findings,” said Dr. Christina Lavorata, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Sara Davis of Monongah is a sophomore majoring in Marketing. Her project is titled “A new Zelda in West Virginia? Challenges and opportunities in West Virginia animation industry.” Davis states that the animation industry is “one of the fastest growing industries” and that “there are many benefits to having a job in this field from a business point of view.” She plans to reveal how resident animation industries can benefit the state of West Virginia in a variety of ways. Her mentor is Dr. Cheon-Pyo (Frank) Lee, Assistant Professor of Information Systems.

A native of Charleston, Jennifer Goggins is a senior Pre-Pharmacy student. Her research project, “Which aquatic organism is the best model organism to assess the effectiveness of acid mine drainage remediation?” is mentored by Dr. Mark Flood, Professor of Biology. Goggins is a member of the University’s Honors Program. She notes that “in recent times, coal mining has waned [in West Virginia], leaving several abandoned mines in the state…producing sulfuric acid…[which] lowers the pH of the water, affecting those species that rely upon the water for a habitat, for reproduction and for sustenance.”  She explains that water fleas (Daphnia magna) have traditionally been used to determine the quality of water in West Virginia, but she will conduct research to determine if a better model exists.

Courtney Swiger is from Barrackville. She is a sophomore Biology student. Her research project is titled “Who eats whom? A mini-ecosystem lab for introductory biology class.” Swiger plans to use live organisms to demonstrate how food chains and ecosystems function in lower-level biology courses.  Swiger will “evaluate different types of living organisms as a part of one food chain and how they interact with each other and react to changes in their environment.” In addition, Swiger explains that “this research project will help with student retention and recruitment because it is more interesting to a student to be able to work with living organisms in an aquarium rather than dead ones on a slide or in a jar.” Her mentor is Dr. Steven Roof, Professor of Biology.

A junior from Fairmont, Ian Williams is majoring in English Education and minoring in Graphics Technology. His research is a creative project in which he will complete a manuscript of ekphrasis poetry.  Ekphrasis (pronounced aik-fra-see) is a form of poetry that describes a visual work of art, such as a painting or sculpture. “My project,” Williams explains, “is primarily based upon experiential learning techniques, requiring me to take initiative and learn through the undertaking and experience of developing a professional manuscript of poetry. Through this process, I will experience the hard work, research and dedication that writing poetry requires, the cooperation and teamwork that matures when collaborating with artists and workshopping writing with peers and the initiative and ambition that it takes to have the manuscript bound and formed into a distributable product.” His mentor is Dr. Donna Long, Professor of English. Williams is a member of the University’s Honors Program.

The SURE Fellows were selected by the Undergraduate Research Advisory Council, comprised of Judy P. Byers, Mark R. Flood, Rebecca Giorcelli, John O’Connor, Sharon Smith, Don Trisel and J. Robert Baker.

Students from all disciplines are encouraged to participate in the SURE program at Fairmont State University. Interested students must have completed their sophomore year and must have a GPA of at least 3.00. Students must be nominated by a faculty member who will also serve as a mentor.