EMU Joins Other Local Colleges on NSF Research

Eastern Mennonite University will participate with two other local schools – James Madison University and Bridgewater College – in a summer research project, thanks to a special grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) grant will provide funding for 12 students to do intensive research in molecular biology to address questions in genetics, cells, tissues, organisms and ecosystems. They will work under faculty supervision in laboratories at JMU, EMU and BC from May 21 through July 27, 2007.

Students should apply to the program director, Dr. Terrie Rife, assistant professor of biology at JMU. Applicants must have at least one year of college-level chemistry, one year of college-level biology and a grade point average of at least 2.75.

“The goal is for each student to develop independence as a researcher by conducting his/her own research project, gaining skills in the laboratory, being exposed to the primary literature, participating in scientific presentations and discussions,” Dr. Rife said.

Stephen Cessna, associate professor of chemistry at EMU, said the project is unique in that the students’ focus will be molecular biology – what can be done with DNA – and will “provide research opportunities for students who aren’t enrolled at major research universities.

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“It will be mentored research with close faculty-student interaction,” Dr. Cessna said. In addition to research, there will be frequent opportunities for seminars and guest speakers in cohort settings and social programs – including a canoe trip – to help students develop camaraderie with peers and mentors and more deeply appreciate the broad use of molecular biology tools.

The program will conclude with a poster session in which the students present their research findings. Ultimately, the students may be invited to present their research at a regional or national scientific meeting.

Dr. Greta Ann Herrin, assistant professor of biology, will be EMU’s faculty participant.

Half of the students will be selected from JMU, EMU and BC, with the others coming from other colleges and universities across Virginia and beyond.