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Students Engage in Summer Research

Each year faculty can apply for research grants that are supported through a number of funds.

The Summer Research Institute, an eight-week program that began in 1996, was initially supported by donations from an anonymous alum. In more recent years Life Technologies Foundation, formerly Invitrogen, funded the science-based research projects, and the Hodson Trust has directed funds toward this collaborative initiative as well. SRI, which provides students with a $2,000 stipend and free on-campus housing, allows students to work one-on-one with a faculty adviser on cutting-edge research.

Students benefit greatly from participating in these programs. They gain real-world experience by collaborating closely with experts in a research-based environment. Meet some of the students who participated in summer research and read what they have to say about their experiences.

This year Tim Hulyk ’15 and Samantha Norris ’15 (pictured above) were two of the 30 students assisting 16 faculty who were awarded research grants under the SRI program.

Students like Samantha and Tim gained valuable skills and experience from their research this summer. Both students worked under the direction of Hood chemistry professor Prof. Kevin Bennett studying ways to improve our understanding of chemicals that we use every day like over the counter medications and plastics.

Samantha and Tim gained vital laboratory experience that they will be able to apply through the course of the rest of their college career and that will set them apart in the job market. They used a Noble prize-winning technique referred to as electrospray ionization.  Their work has led to a better understanding of the chemical principles behind electrospray ionization, which are key to better analysis of plastics and pharmaceuticals.

“This research experience will help my career path because graduate schools look for applicants to have some research experience, and having two summers will look very good on my application. Also it provided me with the chance to witness things not work, and be able to use some problem solving skills to figure out how to fix it,” Tim, a chemistry major, said.

In addition to learning how to conduct research, students learn about data analysis and presentation. SRI students present a poster to the Hood community at the end of their research, enabling the entire campus to learn about what their peers have been working on over the summer.

“This research position allowed me to become more comfortable with laboratory work and with producing a final presentation based on my research. Those two aspects will aid me with future laboratory-based classes and with presentation heavy classes like CHEM 470. The experience is also beneficial to my future career goals as it will enable me to present my research in two renowned poster sessions at UMBC and possibly the ACS Conference,” Samantha, a biochemistry major, said.

Summer research provides students with an unique opportunity to collaborate with their professors and classmates in a setting more typical of a work environment than a classroom one.

“The most valuable aspect of the research experience was getting to know the other SRI chemistry students a little better. You spend so much time together over the course of the eight weeks in lab that it’s very easy to start to build better friendships with the other students and I think that more than anything has made this an enjoyable experience,” Tim said.

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