While most Shippensburg University students spent their summers relaxing at home, traveling or working, a group of student researchers spent their time completing academic research projects.
The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program began in summer 2012 when a group of faculty and administrators who wanted to give undergraduates the opportunity to do professional-level academic research over the summer through grants.
Marc Renault, chair of the SURE committee, explained the opportunity for students and faculty to share in research.
“The idea is that many faculty members use the summer to do their own professional research,” Renault said. “That research could benefit from having a research assistant.”
Students are often introduced to the SURE program during the school year.
“Typically, the student may have already done a little work with a faculty member that they’ve gotten to know and like,” Renault said.
Then, both faculty and student must submit a joint application, committing to the project.
“So far, we’ve been able to fund all of the applications,” Renault said.
“However, we’re at a point now where the total amount requested exactly meets the total amount available and there may come a time where the SURE application process becomes much more competitive.”
The program is funded by the Provost and Academic Deans. In order to receive funding, student-faculty pairs must submit a join application. If funding is awarded, then the student receives a stipend for up to $750 for 100 hours of summer research work.
Research over the summer creates a different experience for the students.
“The summer provides more time to really get invested in a research project. These projects are at a high level- these are projects that the faculty members are working on themselves,” Renault said.
He noted it is often difficult to devote a large amount of time to the projects during the school year.
By completing the research over the summer, students can devote more time, energy and concentration into the projects.
According to Renault, 2019 is the largest group of students to participate. 18 students and 19 faculty members participated in the program.
The areas of study of the student researchers vary from chemistry, biology, psychology, English and math.
Professor of geography and earth science Alison Feeney partnered with Carla Kungl, professor of English and students Bess Points and Abigail Kauffman for their project, “Collecting, mapping and analyzing wild yeast strains with technical writing and laboratory procedures for the craft beer industry.”
Feeney, who has participated in multiple SURE projects, said by partnering with other departments, they are “blending expertise” and are able to accomplish more.
“The students are excited and that keeps me motivated,” Feeney said.
Student Bess Points said it was exciting to use programs and skills taught in class and apply them on a real-life project.
“For many, they discover the excitement of research when they discover new things and answer questions that hadn’t been answered before,” Renault said.
Students and faculty presented their SURE projects at the Success Now! Expo during Fall Welcome Week.
For more information on SURE, visit https://www.ship.edu/student_research/sure/sure/