Students Receive Grants for Summer Research


Jene ThomasGeneral Assignment Reporter 

Instead of the old run of the mill summer job, students of Southern Connecticut State University now have the opportunity to obtain an undergraduate grant to conduct research outside of classes during the summer.

The program, initiated by President Mary A. Papazian, is launched from the Provost’s office and offers five students compensation for conducting research in their field of study. After studying the correlation between substance abuse and personality disorders, recent recipient, Alyssa Battipaglia, will be compensated $3000. Sure does sound better than working at the local pizzeria for minimum wage and tips.

Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Marianne D. Kennedy, says, “By providing financial assistance to students to carry out their research during the summer, we hope they can work less in jobs unrelated to their academic and career goals, and spend more time engaged in learning.”

Like Battipaglia, many students choose to conduct research within the psychological field. “Interested students sign up with a certain faculty member in their respective field,” says Cheryl Durwin, psychology professor here at Southern. “We have a student determining maternal addiction due to alcohol and drugs [through animals] with Dr. Nizhnikov.”

The biology department also offers students plenty of opportunities to conduct research. Start off by talking to a designated professor in a specific area of interest. If interested in aquatic biology and biodiversity, Professor Steven K. Burian is the person to see.

They provide students with multiple options for research, which provide grant funding through SCSU, Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, the Council of Undergraduate Research and the American Society for Microbiology

Biology student Aileen Ferraro was also a recipient of the grant. Under the advisement of Elizabeth Roberts, Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology, Ferraro has been able to examine and test how plant root bacteria can remove Atrazine from the soil. Atrazine is a harmful chemical compound used in herbicide.

This is not to be confused with the Federal Pell Grants. The government does not supply the funds, so going to financial aid won’t do any good. When seeking a grant for undergraduate research, first meet with an advisor. The advisor may be from any field that conducts research. The funding for these grants come from the SCSU foundation, a board of trustees who donate to help students accomplish academic success outside of the classroom.  Kennedy has ensured that funds will be set up for the summer of 2015. That gives students plenty of time to apply.

For information on how to apply, start by visiting a staff member in your field of study. They will provide step-by-step instructions on how to apply for research grants.

Professor Kenneth Walters, mentor of Battipaglia says, “I maintain a team of five undergraduate research assistants each academic year. Research assistants gain valuable experience, which greatly enhances their graduate school applications.”

The program is new to the students of Southern, but not to undergraduate students nationwide. At the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, students are able to participate in what is referred to as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF.) With SURF, around 60 students are allotted $3000 each to engage in undergraduate research at off campus facilities.

For local students, Yale also offers undergraduate research grants. The Yale Science and Engineering Association provides students with grant money to explore and research any aspect of science or engineering. In order to receive a grant, students must be able to provide a brief proposal, specifying the research project, amount of money that the proposal would need and letters of recommendations from professors.

Photo Credit: Fairifax Library Foundation 

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