Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity for Women

The Chemistry Department of Wellesley College is pleased to announce that we have received funding for our summer National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site program for the summer of 2012.

The goal of the ten-week summer program is to encourage bright young women to pursue research careers in science and medicine through their participation in a research project as early as possible in their academic careers. The key components of the program are: a student research project supervised by a Chemistry or Physics Department faculty member; weekly meetings in which students give oral presentations of their work; weekly seminars by visiting scientists; field trips to nearby industrial and academic research labs; career and graduate school panels; skills workshops in public speaking, scientific writing, and poster presentations; and a campus-wide poster session at the end of the program.

Wellesley’s supportive infrastructure, including equipment and facilities comparable to those at many research universities, contributes greatly to the strength of our research programs. The diverse array of individual student projects involves cutting edge research such as (a) creating novel responsive systems for investigation as drug delivery vehicles, (b) designing and synthesizing amino acid analogs for the development of a structure-activity relationship for the biological production of insulin, (c) preparing novel antituberculosis compounds, (d) predicting the behavior of Bose-Einstein condensed atoms in ultra-cold dilute gases, (e) investigating the electron-induced reactions in nanoscale thin films under ultrahigh vacuum conditions to understand the role of secondary electrons in electron-beam-induced deposition (EBID), a direct-write technique, (f) investigating the vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy of astrophysical molecules, (g) utilizing MRI and NMR to investigate a mouse model for schizophrenia, (h) combining computer simulations and experimental biochemistry to study membrane proteins, (i) fingerprinting historical lead sources in current urban gardens, (j) investigating the dynamics of atmospheric reactions, (k) using surface-functionalized gold nanoparticles as vehicles for targeting and treating cancer, and (l) designing and synthesizing the natural product Angelmarin and its structural analogues as Anticancer Agents. Undergraduate students, especially those doing research during the summer, have co-authored most of the presentations and papers that have come out of this department.

In addition to the student research project component, our summer program will build on and expand interdisciplinary connections and collaborations between Chemistry and other departments. The primary thrust of the interdisciplinary focus will be the continued inclusion of physics and geoscience faculty and students in the summer research program. Such collaborations will enhance student comprehension of science because of the varied perspectives of the collaborating disciplines.

The summer research program will engage women and minority students and introduce them to the excitement of research. An NSF funded pilot study, cited in a recent Science article, involving summer research students from Wellesley and three other undergraduate institutions, clearly demonstrates the impact of effective undergraduate research experience on learning, attitude, and career choice. As in the past, about 60% of the NSF-REU slots will be reserved for non-Wellesley students with preference given to participants from institutions with limited research opportunities. A distinguished faculty comprised of ~ 50% women and ~25% minorities will serve as role models.

Details of the 2011 summer research program can be found at the following site: http://www.wellesley.edu/Chemistry/insidereu.html

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