The Summer Scholars Program is an intensive hands-on research experience that allows students to collaborate with a faculty mentor in the process of discovery. Students are paid a stipend for approximately 20 hours of research per week and engage with other student researchers in professional development workshops and social gatherings. Enrolled AU students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Program Goals

  • To provide intentional mentoring and professional development through collaborative research and creative scholarship;
  • To increase opportunities for underrepresented students to become actively engaged in research and creative scholarship;
  • To provide undergraduates with intensive experiential learning through engagement in research and creative scholarship;
  • To support high impact scholarly activity that yields significant student development and academic achievements while furthering the research productivity of Augusta University.

Student Application

exclamation-circle icon Deadline to apply:  March 1, 2021

Details of the program:

  • Open to undergraduate students currently enrolled at Augusta University with an anticipated graduation date of December 2021 or later
  • Students will apply to several faculty projects (To be Posted Early 2021) some of which are 9-week programs (May 17 - July 17, 2021), some are 5 week programs (May 17 - June 19, 2021).
  • Students are required to work 20 hours per week
  • Must be available to attend orientation and kickoff on May 17th, 2021 along with scheduled workshops anticipated to be weekly on Thursdays from 12-1:30pm (subject to change)
  • Must attend the Symposium presentation on Thurs. July 15, 2021 from 4-6pm
  • Summer courses with a lab require a great deal of attention and may conflict with required research schedules
  • Students must apply during the application period of Feb 1 - Mar 1.

Students Apply HERE

View the 2021 Summer Scholars Program Mentors and Research Projects:

Stress Symptoms Plague Tactical Athletes: Can Intermittent Fasting Help?

The objective of this project is to demonstrate the efficacy of intermittent fasting as a therapeutic approach to improving cardiovascular risk, metabolic risk, and cognitive decline in police officers and firefighters, both of whom are also called “tactical athletes”. The primary aim of this study is to determine if an intermittent fasting regimen alters physiological health parameters, sleep quality, daily activity levels, psychological variables, and/or cognitive performance. The secondary aim of the study is to analyze the dietic changes after an intermittent fasting intervention.

2 student positions available

9 week session

The CrossFit Culture: At the Intersection of Inclusivity and Community

This IRB-approved project is meant to examine the perceived acceptance of exercisers within CrossFit to answer the question: does inclusive community mean everyone? Furthermore, the results from this project will become a baseline of data that will allow for further exploration of the acceptance of all gym members within the CrossFit community and how the CrossFit community can expand its support for any marginalized community.

The first objective is to aide students in understanding the methodological intricacies of statistical analysis as they pertain to this study’s research questions and hypotheses. The second objective is to expose students to the detail-oriented process of manuscript writing. Third objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the word “community” within the CrossFit population

2 student positions available

9 week session

Press Play to Get Active: Using Podcasts to Increase Steps

In the United States, 40% of young adults aged 20-39 are classified as obese (Center for Disease Control, 2020). The Center for Disease Control highlights physical activity as a key lifestyle change for individuals who are overweight or obese(healthy eating habits have also been identified). Supporting lifestyle changes that incorporatephysical activity into theirdaily routine is a critical step to aid and support the cardiovascular health of overweight and obese individuals. Developing interventions using smartphone technology has been recognized as a feasible next step for physical activity specifically for overweight, obese young adults (Kim, 2020). The purpose of this study is to explore the feasibility and acceptability of a physical activity intervention which encourages physical activity (primarily an increase in daily steps) while listening to podcasts.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Exploring Movement and Staging Possibilities in Historical Photographs of the Countess de Castiglione

Scherzo di Folliais just one of some five hundred portraits the Countess de Castiglione and photographer Pierre Louis Pierson made together over a forty year period, from 1856 to 1895. While portrait photography was extremely popular at this time, the number of portraits the Countess made is exceptional, as is the active part she played in composing them. Due to the sheer quantity of the portraits and the Countess’ reputed history as an Italian spy and Napoleon III’s mistress, many scholars tend to analyze her portraits largely in terms of what they tell us about herlife and personality.

Project Objectives
• Students will select, describe, and interpret a photograph or series of photographs of the Countess de Castiglione
• Using Brecht’s concept of the social gest as well as surreal techniques, students will make connections to other under/misrepresented women and socio-historical and cultural events and issues
• Students will further research these associations
• Students will use their research to recreate the original photograph(s) through performance
• The group will work together to develop staging concepts, visual art, movement sequences, and several scenes for the fall 2021 Theatre AUG production

2 student positions available

9 week session

STEM Students’ Perceptions and Use of the Augusta University Writing Center

Since writing is a skill that has consistently proven essential for academic and career success, especially in STEM fields, understanding how STEM students perceive writing and make use of writing supports warrants further study. This is especially true at Augusta University, where the majority of undergraduate students pursue degrees in STEM and Health Science disciplines but underutilize campus resources such as the Writing Center for assistance with writing, oral communication, and multimodal projects.  

1 student position available

9 week session

Thirteen by Jason Robert Brown: Music Theatre Workshop for ages 12-18 

Working with two university research students, we will plan a summer music theatre workshop of the show Thirteen by Jason Robert Brown. The workshop will either take place as a week-long day camp housed in the Maxwell Theatre or it can be held online, depending on university guest policies. Participants will be ages 12-18 or rising 7th grade-graduating 12th graders. The objectives of the project will be

  • plan an educational and exciting music theatre training program for local teens
  • implement the camp in person or virtually with individual and group lessons on auditioning, singing, acting, interpreting and performance of scenes from the musical
  • write up the pedagogical plan and reflect on the project’s outcome in article form that we will submit to NAfME (National Association of Musical Education).

2 student positions available

5 week session

Approaches to STEM Concept Learning in Online Environments

In this study, we seek to determine the ways high school science teachers engage learners with the three-dimensions of science learning, as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards in online environments. The undergraduate student chosen to work on this project will meet with the PI at least twice a week. Initially, they will learn how to code qualitative data and record it in MAXQDA software.  Mentor—mentee discussions and Saldana’s Coding Manual will help the mentee understand how to identify important information from video and transcripts.

1 student position available

9 week session

 Exploring Educators' Perspectives on the Backward Design of the Humanistic Curriculm

The ultimate goal of education is to develop each student into a full human being. When students strive to become fully human, they will be engaged in understanding the potential of another person regardless of race, ethnicity, gender,ability, and beliefs. They will realize the interdependence of all lives and the environment. When educators incorporate humanity into their curricula, they will also become more fully human (Gou!ah, 2020). Goals of the proposed study are to:

  • Review research studies on Ikeda's philosophy and practice of humanistic education.
  • Synthesize literature, bothhumanistic education and backward design, to inform the curriculum development of the present study.
  • Highlight literature on cultivating humanity in young children's lives.
  • Implement developed curriculum to study educators' perspectives.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Defining the Boundaries of Productivity in Economic Discourse, 1890-1960

In this project we seek to ask when and how productivity as a socially constructed idea changes in the economic discourse that permeates a variety of social spaces to shape how we perceive what counts as productive. To do this we will analyze and code economic textbooks from 1890-1960, a historical moment when economics transitioned from classical political economy to the neo-classical economics that now dominates modern economic thought.

2 student positions available

9 week session

A Pilot Study of Psychological Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, and Racism

To date, and understandably, research on racism has focused over-whelmingly on its impacts on people of color. We argue that better understanding the relationship between Whiteness, mental health, and racism for White people serves two critical purposes: The development of pathways to improving health outcomes for White individuals and communities, and the prevention and amelioration of racism for people of color by addressing its individual-level source.  This is a survey study of White individuals, using both online and community-based data collection, designed to preliminarily identify factors (e.g., social well-being; substance abuse; trauma history) based on Malat and colleagues’ (2018) theoretical model which may help elucidate the link between psychological and social wellbeing and racism for White people.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Does p65 Deletion in Microglia Alter Cell Phenotype?

Glioblastoma (GBM), which is the most aggressive brain cancer and usually leaves patients only months to live, is characterized by a large percentage ofrecruitedmicroglia, the immune cell of the central nervous system (CNS). Several recent studies have elucidated vital roles that microglia play in normal CNS development and function, as well as in inflammation linked to neurodegenerative disorders and to primary and metastatic brain malignancies.

We have created an immune-competent mouse model that lacks canonical NF-κB signaling (p65/RelA) in microglia. Our objectives for the 2021 Summer Scholars Program are to determine whether NF-κB deficient microglia have altered phenotypes and can alter GBM characteristics, in cell culture. This project is part of our larger NIH funded study which is investigating microglial NF-κB signaling in GBM progression and drug resistance.

1 student position available

9 week session

Extracellular Matrix Tinagl1 in Craniofacial Development and Wnt Signaling

Tinagl1 is a secreted extracellular matrix protein found in the basement membranes underlying epithelial cells and surrounding vascular smooth muscle cells.  It is evolutionarily conserved throughout animal specieshaving three germ layers(Bilateria), and has been suggested to have roles inmesenchymal-epithelial cell interactions and cell fate transitions in development and cancer. We still know very little about how and where Tinagl1 works in the bodyrather than in a cellculture dish, though, somy laboratory has a long-term objective of interrogating Tinagl1 function in the zebrafish embryo model. 

My lab has two ongoing objectives in which undergraduates can make major contributions:
1) Make definitive knockouts, both transient via injection of efficient CRISPR synthetic guide RNAs and permanent as fluorescent protein (FP)-marked knockout (KO) strains. 

2) Determine the reliance of Wnt/b-catenin signaling on tinagl1 function.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Role of Physical Forces in Collective Cell Migration During Tumor Invasion

The current project will use physics based computational models to examine mechanical cues known to impact collective cell migration – forces experienced by a cell due to neighboring cells and the traction forces that cells exert on the substrate (the surface on which cells are located e.g: glass, gel, or the extracellular matrix etc).  During the course of this summer project, I will train my students in computational and theoretical physics based approaches to the study of active matter systems. Together, we will investigate how the variability of individual cell mechanical properties determine the motility of cell collectives in two and three spatial dimensions.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Magnetic Behavior of Crystals and Neurons

Magnetic materials and their properties form the backbone of modern technological applications ranging from motors, generators, transformers to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and data storage (solid state drives) in the form of magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM),to name a few. While magnetic behaviorof chemical compounds isimportant for our technological advancement, its effecton living organism has also long been appreciated.

Major breakthroughs in the efficiency of stimulation devices were achieved in the 1980s. Since then, non-invasive stimulation has become anessential tool in neuroscience, for both research and clinical applications. The proposedCURS Summer Scholars project, "Magnetic behavior of crystals and neurons" ismotivated by the above magnetic phenomena.

Project 1: We wish to utilize the Exact Diagonalization Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering (EDRIXS) code developed at Brookhaven National Lab by Dr. Mark Dean to computationally study the effects of x-ray scattering and polarization in magnetic materials (transition metals).  The research method involves using crystal field theory equations and python programming.

Project 2: How can we modify the current Hodgkin-Huxley equations to treat the magnetic stimulation of the lumbar and sacral nerve plexi?” The research method involves using Hodgkin-Huxley theory equations and MATLAB programming (computational).

2 student positions available

5 week session

Computational Approach: Strategy of Identifying Effective Drug Candidates for COVID19

Viruses are small infectiousparticlesranging from 20-300 nm in size and containing proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. Usually, viruses have a simple structure but their interactions with the host are very complex. Viruses have always beena major threat to the economy and global health because of their epidemics and pandemics nature as well as resistance to therapies. Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses known to cause illnesses that vary between the common cold and more severe diseases. Recently, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)that causes COVID-19has infected millions of individuals globally.

The overarching objective of this application is to develop a computational model and identify the key parameters which could be a useful tool for COVID-19 drug development. We will use the identified target proteins for our computational studies. Based on the computational data we will design a few potential drug-like molecules, keep all factors in mind.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Characterization of a Novel Condensation Enzyme for Drug Discoveries

Natural products (NPs), secondary metabolites biosynthesized by microorganisms and plants, are a veryimportant source of drugs and drug leads. Infectious diseases, atuoimmune diseases, and other ailmentshave been treated by these molecules throughout the human history.

This project aims to characterize CN domains from the biosynthetic pathways of two analogous NPs, rimosamide
and detoxin produced by Streptomyces spp. Characterization of the novel CN domain that may have a tremendous engineering potential is the very first step to utilize this enzyme to modify the NRP biosynthetic pathways to produce “unnatural” natural products. These derivatized natural products could be used to tackle the infections to drug-resistant bacteria.

1 student position available

9 week session

COVID-19 Immunization-related Decision Making

This study will systematically analyze qualitative semi-structured interviews with employees in the Augusta University health system to explore their immunization-related decision making. We will recruit a purposive sample of up to 96 employees, stratified by ethnicity, position, and vaccination decision. The model generated here will provide a theoretical framework for communicating immunization science to healthcare workers and patients to better inform their decision making. The qualitative method enables us to richly describe decision making processes and to create action-oriented strategies and statements for future communication campaigns.  

2 student positions available

9 week session

Inverse Problems for a Brain Tumor Model

In this project, we aim to develop mathematical methodology to estimate the net rate of growth of glioma cells (the parameter ρ in Swanson’s model) by considering two inverse problems. Depending on whether the parameter ρ is time-dependent or space-dependent, we will establish two distinct inverse problems to determine the parameter as well as the time history of the glioma cell concentration. 

The objective of the project is to develop two mathematical methods to estimate the net rate of growth of glioma cells in a brain tumor model. To be more specific, we consider two scenarios where the proliferation coefficient of the glioma cells only depends on time or space. 

2 student positions available

9 week session

Mathematical Modeling of the Impact of Media on the Transmission and Control of COVID-19

This proposal encapsulates the impact of media on the transmission and control of COVID-19 in a media-driven mathematical model. We will use non-pharmaceutical intervention efforts aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing, the use of face masks, quarantine of suspected cases, isolation and contact tracing. The response of some individuals to the threat of an infectious disease is dependent on their perception of risk, which can be swayed by public and private information disseminated through media.

The objective of this proposal is to formulate a novel mathematical model of COVID-19 based on data, and to study the impact of media on the transmission and control of COVID-19, by gaining insight about the contribution of human behavior on the spread and control of the virus and not to make explicit epidemiological predictions and forecasting.

2 student positions available

9 week session

 Comparison of Techniques for Discriminating Retinal Changes in Diabetic Mice

Retinal diseases represent important health problems for a large population. Patients care dearly about their vision, and uniformly express interest in any therapies to improve or regain their ability to see. We perform clinical visual electrophysiology to help ophthalmologists diagnose and appropriately treat a number of conditions, including retinitis pigmentosas, other rod-cone and cone-rod dystrophies, Plaquenil toxicity, optic neuropathies, functional vision loss, and numerous other pathologies.

Students do not need any background, just the desire to do the work, the responsibility to show up and do the work the right way, and the willingness to work with other people. This opportunity is open to all students, and underrepresented minorities are especially welcomed. Students could certainly continue to work in the lab after this summer.

Animal safety training, Chemical safety training is required before the start of the program.

2 student positions available

9 week session

Role of KCTD Proteins in Regulation of Neuronal Signal Transduction

The key neuronal circuit for motor control is through the basal ganglia. In this system multiple neuromodulatoryinputs converge to the striatum, which is largely accountable to materialize cognitive aspects of motor learning and the realization of actual motor functions. Thus a range of movement disorders are hallmarked by abnormalfunction of the basal ganglia.

Project Aim: To understand the spatial and temporal patterns of cAMP regulation by KCTD protein complexes. The main experimental platform for these studies will be cultured striatal neurons obtained from a commercial source. KCTD proteins will be eliminated by utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing strategies. Therefore lentivirus particles encoding CRISPR target sequences will be packaged in house utilizing standard molecular cloning and cell culture lines

2 student positions available

9 week session

Combined Proteomics and Bioinformatics Approaches and Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is defined as non-traumatic extravasation of blood into the brain parenchyma. ICH is the second most common subtype of stroke, accounting for approximately 10–20% of all types of strokes. We will isolate single-cell suspensions of brain tissue, which enables the characterization of changes that occur at the cellular level after hemorrhagic brain injury, and that also limits the extracellular protein-mediated masking of signals derived from low-abundant proteins during the proteomic analysis. The proteome of the single-cell brain suspensions will be analyzed using quantitative mass spectrometry.

2 student positions available

9 week session

 

Faculty Application

exclamation-circle icon Is currently closed

The program has two sessions:

  • Session 1(9 weeks): May 17, 2021 to July 16, 2021 (eligible faculty may receive stipend of $1500/student)
  • Session 2 (5 weeks): May 17, 2021 - June 18, 2021 (eligible faculty may receive stipend of $900/student)

Instructions and Review Process

Faculty should read the SSP Call for Proposals and complete the online SSP application form by January 4th.  No hard copy applications will be accepted. A project proposal will be uploaded into the application form. All proposals will undergo a review process by an interdisciplinary committee. Any questions or concerns should be directed to CURS, 706-729-2094.

The Project Proposal should include the following, in this order. Use language for a broad non discipline specific reviewer. Maximum of 3 pages single spaced.

  • Title - Please include an interdisciplinary-friendly title of the summer project. (Thus this should not necessarily be the same as a published article might read). Limit of 10 words.
  • Introduction - Provide an introduction to the general research topic, and include an explanation of the project objectives and significance to the discipline. For studies requiring IRB/IACUC approval, please state the current status of approval. (Lack of approval does not make you ineligible, but is considered less competitive.)
  • Mentoring - Provide a detailed description of the educational goals of the project and how you will guide and mentor your student(s). Include a description of role(s) of the faculty mentor and the role(s) of the student. Be specific regarding skills and knowledge that students are expected to gain from this experience.  [It is appropriate to discuss the potential to include underrepresented minorities, 1st generation, and/or lower-level (i.e. first and second year) undergraduate students as part of the project.] Note: This is a critical component of the program.
  • Timeline - Provide a weekly timeline of expected student activities and at least bi-weekly meetings.
  • Budget Justification - Provide a description of how the supplies or travel requested in the budget will be used and contribute to student learning. (If you need funding for supplies/travel occurring after June 30, 2021 (such as animal care), please list dates and expected amounts in the budget justification.)

Mentorship involves a committed relationship and is qualitatively different from hiring a student assistant paid to accomplish research tasks. For student assistants, please consider posting your opportunity on the Handshake Job Board through the Augusta University Career Services website.

Tips for Successful Funding Proposals:  Watch this short video to help you meet our proposal guidelines.

 

 

Dr. Laurence Miller and students presenting poster at the 2016 Summer Symposium
2019_ Dr. Jennifer Bradford with students Jordan and Apurva (Biology)
2019_ Dr. Jennifer Trunzo with Brandon Z. (Anthropology)
2019_ Dr. Eric Numfor and students Farron and Kyle (Mathematics)
2019 presenters_  Anabelle and Katherine
2019 Summer Scholar Symposium
Dr. Graeme Connolly and student group (Kinesiology) 2016