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Three honors students accepted into National Science Foundation research programs

May 11, 2012

EAU CLAIRE —Three students from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Honors Program have been chosen for internship positions in the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Sophomore microbiology major James Dulaney, Shakopee, Minn.; senior physics and math double major Thomas Nevins, Chippewa Falls; and sophomore physics major Mandy Neumann, Spencer, will intern at three NSF research institutes over the summer.

"James Dulaney, Thomas Nevins and Mandy Neumann are outstanding examples of the students we have at UW-Eau Claire, both in the University Honors Program and in the wider university," said Dr. Jefford Vahlbusch, Honors Program director. "I'm thrilled that they have earned the chance to participate in these summer research opportunities through the National Science Foundation and the three host universities. These are coveted positions that draw applications from students across the nation. The process is very competitive."

 James Dulaney
James Dulany
Dulaney will work on investigative biotechnology research at Western Kentucky University. Students in that program, which runs from May 29-Aug. 3, will attend informational sessions in addition to working on individual research assignments.

Students in the Western Kentucky program also will hone presentation skills and have the opportunity to interact with faculty mentors, graduate students and research technicians. Housing, travel, meal allowances and research supplies will be provided, in addition to a $500-per-week stipend.

Dulaney said he became interested in the program through two UW-Eau Claire professors. It was Vahlbusch who ultimately led him to apply.

"The WKU program is designed to develop first-rate researchers, and I know that James is already well on his way to becoming one," Vahlbusch said. "The program seemed a perfect fit for his skills and his areas of scientific interest."

Dulaney hopes to develop research skills in biotechnology and improve his overall scientific research abilities. He also wants to learn about ethical issues and responsible research conduct, as well as prepare for graduate school.

"The experience of this program will further prepare me for research opportunities down the road," Dulaney said. "The biotechnology aspect will prepare me for a future career in biomedical research, especially since I'd probably want to focus specifically on gene therapy for veterinary medicine."

 Thomas Nevins
Thomas Nevins
Nevins will conduct research for the "Nanoporous Materials for Sensor Applications" project at the University of Idaho. Students in the program will spend nine weeks, from June 3-Aug. 3, performing research with an active research group.

The University of Idaho program pays interns' housing and travel expenses, and students receive a $5,000 stipend.

Nevins said he has always been interested in research and would like to do it professionally in the future. He hopes this experience will broaden his research knowledge.

"Hopefully this summer I will get to branch out a little bit in two ways," he said. "First, I've never done research outside of Eau Claire, so seeing another department in action should be interesting. Second, I'm hoping to work on a different branch of physics that I haven't been exposed to before."

He also said the opportunity to do hands-on research will be very beneficial.

"Doing good research is more of a skill than something you can just pick up from a book," Nevins said. "I want to practice the skill of taking good data, finding what's important and getting the results. I'm hoping that the program will help me to make my skills in research improve even more."

 Mandy Neumann
Mandy Neumann
Neumann will work on solar and space physics research at the University of Colorado Boulder. The program begins with a summer school session focused on solar and space physics and continues with seminars, discussions and peer-to-peer collaboration opportunities. Students present their findings at the end of the eight-week program, which runs from June 10-Aug. 5.

The CU Boulder program provides a housing and food allowance, and students receive a $500-per-week stipend in addition to a $500 travel stipend.

Neumann said professors and fellow students encouraged her to apply for the program. She said she was shocked to receive the opportunity as a sophomore and will value the many aspects the experience has to offer.

"I hope to gain as much as I am able, may it be directly from the research and program experiences, the chance to delve into a new area of study or the community of my fellow researchers and mentors," Neumann said. "Not to mention, I will be enjoying the outdoors of beautiful Colorado."

Neumann hopes the program will help her narrow her prospective fields of graduate study, as well as prepare her for a future in solar and space physics research.

"Researching this summer will develop skills and provide experience needed for further pursuit in understanding the physical nature of our universe," she said. "I believe this program will create pathways for future research, and I would be more than happy exploring the mysteries of our world, the stars and beyond for the rest of my days."

Vahlbusch said Dulaney, Nevins and Neumann will be examples for students in the future.

"I'm excited that they will be bringing the experiences and knowledge that they gain back to us at UW-Eau Claire," Vahlbusch said. "They will surely be able to help us encourage more of our great students to apply for such life-changing programs."

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