Chloe Casey, a junior at Avila University, was one of a select group of 10 college students from across the United States participating in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Rutgers University‒Camden this summer.
For 10 weeks Casey worked alongside faculty and graduate-student mentors in the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. From hands-on lab work to the potential of publishing research papers, Casey’s research gave her a head start on STEM learning experiences that many students won’t begin until graduate school.
“The students really get quite a bit out of it,” said Joseph Martin, associate dean for science, mathematics, technology, and health sciences, and a professor in the Rutgers-Camden biology department. “They are able to get their names on a publication sometimes, learn how research works, and learn the ins and outs of research.”
Casey conducted her first field research project working with Amy Savage, an assistant professor of biology, in the streets of Camden to study the effects of an urban environment on ants and how the high-fat, high-sugar food discarded by humans and consumed by ants can change ant behavior and their predation. “I’ve never really done field work before,” said Casey. “So it’s really amazing to come out here for the summer, get a totally new experience.”
The REU program introduces participants to an integrated approach of conducting research, incorporating the biological sciences, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, and physics. The central theme linking the research projects is the modeling of biological systems — ecological, physiological, and molecular.
One of the four cornerstones of the Avila Promise is a guaranteed research or internship experience for every student, in every major. Research experiences like this one help students build confidence. The opportunity to participate in major scientific research work can also help direct them toward a STEM career. “It really solidifies what I want to do because I’m enjoying it so much.,” said Casey.
Avila University, a Catholic University founded and inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is a values-based community of learning providing liberal arts, professional, undergraduate and graduate education to prepare students for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community. Avila’s academic programs remain true to its Catholic roots and operate on its original collection of core values including service to society, quality academics, and the development of leaders. Avila University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). For more information, visit www.avila.edu or follow @AvilaUniversity on twitter and Facebook.