Student-scientists receive 2021 summer research grants

Seven EMU students heading to careers in science and medicine have earned funding for summer research, provided by the Kauffman-Miller Research Awards and the CT Assist Summer Experiential Learning Program.

“We are pleased that we can work with such a large group of students this summer, since these opportunities were so limited last summer.” said Stephen Cessna, a biochemistry professor who holds the Daniel B. Suter Endowed Chair. 

* Erin Clayton and Graciella Odelia  will work with Professor Jeff Copeland to measure gene activity in a Parkinson’s disease model in the fruitfly. 

* Hannah Giagnocavo and Cheyenne Suamatae’a-Te’o will work with Professor Kristopher Schmidt, solving the many puzzles of roundworm development.

Students working on a summer research project pose for a photo in 2017. From left: Amanda Williams, Bekah Mongold, Hannah Daley. (EMU file photo)

* Theo Yoder and Nicole Miller will travel to Hawaii with Professor Matt Siderhurst to develop and assess new methods of tropical agricultural pest control.

* Rebekah Amstutz will work with Professor Jim Yoder on an investigation of the possibility of institutional nitrogen tracking.

The Kauffman-Miller Research Awards are named for emeritus professors Glenn Kauffman (chemistry) and Roman Miller (biology), each of whom were “champions of undergraduate involvement in authentic scientific research at EMU,” said Cessna. “These awards from the Daniel B. Suter Endowment Fund provide opportunities for biology, chemistry and environmental science students to build the key skills of scientific inquiry from writing the proposal to presenting and potentially publishing their findings.”

Over their 30-plus year tenures, Kauffman and Miller each worked with more than 40 undergraduates on research projects ranging in topics from organic blueberry production to the synthesis of new cyclic organic compounds.

Xavier McCants gives a child medication in Peru. His 2018 travels were funded by the CT Assist Health Experiential Learning Program.

The CT Assist Health Experiential Learning Program awards funds to pre-professional health science students at EMU to support clinical experiences that help prepare students for professional health programs. CT Assist is a Harrisonburg-based healthcare staffing business owned by two alumni. 

Traditionally, funds from CT Assist’s program have supported overseas clinical experiences [read about 2018 and 2019]. As that priority is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s award supplements the research project and clinical shadowing experiences of awardee Erin Clayton.