3D dollar sign in space orbiting over earth horizon.

Undergraduate Research Award applications due October 15

A student plays the violin while hooked up to biometric monitoring equipment. Two professors look on. Computers with graphs depicting the biometric information can be seen in the foreground.

Applications for Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) to support projects conducted during spring semester are due Monday, October 15.

For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. These partnerships are meant to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.  Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may be funded up to $1,000. Each individual or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of specific projects supported by the program may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.

Students may submit individual projects or team projects. Each individual student project or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame.

Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.


Dollar in space image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license. Psychology Lab music research photo by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

 

 

3D dollar sign in space orbiting over earth horizon.

Undergraduate Research Award applications due October 16

A student plays the violin while hooked up to biometric monitoring equipment. Two professors look on. Computers with graphs depicting the biometric information can be seen in the foreground.

Applications for Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) to support projects conducted during spring semester are due Monday, October 16.

For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. These partnerships are meant to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.  Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may be funded up to $1,000. Each individual or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of specific projects supported by the program may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.

Students may submit individual projects or team projects. Each individual student project or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame.

Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.


Dollar in space image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license. Psychology Lab music research photo by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

 

 

Image of Miami University's Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU). Visible are a wall with "ORU" painted on it and three people standing in a circle in a glass-walled office.

Undergraduate Research Award applications due October 17

Origami version of a men's collared shirt, made with a $1 bill.

Applications for Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) to support projects conducted during spring semester are due Monday, October 17.

For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. These partnerships are meant to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.  Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may be funded up to $1,000. Each individual or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of specific projects supported by the program may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.

Students may submit individual projects or team projects. Each individual student project or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame.

Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.


Photo of ORU by Miami University Photo Services.  Dollar shirt origami photo by Leonid Domnister via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

 

 

A student researcher looks into a microscope.

Miami University students honored with national fellowships and awards

Portrait of Lisa Velkoff.
Elizabeth “Lisa” Velkoff has been named a Graduate Research Fellow by the National Science Foundation.

A number of undergraduate and graduate students from Miami University have been honored with prestigious national fellowships and awards this spring.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

Elizabeth “Lisa” Velkoff, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology who is being advised by Dr. April Smith has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program “recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.”

Addison Kimmel, who did her undergraduate work at Miami, also received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program in support of research she is doing as a graduate student at the University of Iowa.

Goldwater Foundation Scholarship Program

The following students have been named Goldwater Scholars:

  • Hannah Devens, a junior double majoring in botany and zoology with an environmental science co-major and double minoring in rhetoric/writing and global perspectives on sustainability;
  • Blake Rasor, a junior double majoring in biology and microbiology and double minoring in molecular biology and bioinformatics;
  • Cameron Williams, a junior majoring in biochemistry and minoring in mathematics.

Avnika Bali, a sophomore, double majoring in biochemistry and biological physics and double minoring in mathematics and neuroscience received an Honorable Mention.

The Goldwater Foundation Scholarship Program encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. It is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The following students and former students have been named English Teaching Assistants through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program:

  • Matthew Armelli, who majored in German before graduating from this past December, will serve in Germany.
  • Rebekah Harper, a senior majoring in integrated English language arts education and minoring in rhetoric/writing, will serve in Turkey.
  • Jonathan Meyer, who double majored in international studies and German before graduating this past December, will serve in Germany.
  • Emily Paxson, a senior majoring in international studies and minoring in German, will service in Bulgaria.
  • William Smeal, a senior double majoring in Spanish and linguistics and minoring in Latin American studies and Lusophone studies, will serve in Bulgaria.

The Fulbright U.S. Student English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program “places students in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.”


Photo of Lisa Velkoff by David Katko, Miami University Photo Services. Photo of Blake Rasor by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.

 

An instructor and a group of 15 or so students are gathered around a signpost that reads, "Caution Live Honey Bees." The instructor holds a frame from a beehive. He is grasping something on the frame with his thumb and forefinger. In his other hand he holds some sort of flat-bladed tool. The students are looking at what the instructor is holding. Two of the students are wearing beekeepers' protective gear. In the background of the photo are a wood privacy fence, some tall, decorative grass, and trees.

Director of undergraduate research says it’s time to think summer

Fifteen students stand in a line in a creek bed. Some students hold long-handled nets or other sample collection tools. The water in the creek is up to their ankles. A gravel creekbank is in the foregrounds, and green vegetation and trees are visible in the background.
Participants in Miami University’s “Ecology of Human-Dominated Landscapes” REU collect samples in the field. This long-running REU, led by biology professors Ann Rypstra and David Berg, went international in 2014 thanks to a grant from Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science, which allowed students from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani to come to Miami to participate in this undergraduate research program.

With all the bitter cold, snow, and ice we’ve seen, wouldn’t it be wonderful to simply turn our attention towards summer? In fact, now is exactly the time you should be thinking about summer plans, even though it is still quite a few months away. Faculty should advise research-active (or research-interested) students to consider summer research programs as a great way to gain an intense, focused research experience outside the demands of the academic year. Deadlines for summer research programs are coming up quickly, and Miami’s new Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU) is prepared to assist interested students in finding and pursuing relevant opportunities.

In particular, applications for Miami’s Undergraduate Summer Scholars program are due to departments by January 30—the end of the first week of classes for the spring semester. Interested applicants should have already begun discussions with their faculty mentors and started preparations of the application packet, which includes a two-page project proposal.

The USS program enables Miami undergraduates completing their sophomore or junior years (having earned at least 60 credit hours) to conduct research or other creative scholarly activities in close collaboration with a faculty mentor during the summer term. Projects are conducted over a 9-week period during the summer, chosen by the student/faculty pair. Each student receives a stipend, project expense budget, and tuition-only waiver for 6 summer credit hours of independent study (required). Faculty mentors must be full-time, tenured or tenure-eligible, and will receive additional professional and project expenses. The full USS guidelines can be found on the ORU website, and any questions about the program can be directed to the ORU at undergradresearch@MiamiOH.edu.

In addition, there are several other excellent summer research opportunities here and across the country for students, with the majority also subject to upcoming application deadlines. Miami hosts a Summer Research Institute in mathematics as well as summer research programs in ecology and chemistry. The latter two are among over 600 sites for NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). REU offerings cover essentially all disciplines that are funded by NSF, not only STEM fields such as biological and earth sciences, chemistry, physics, and engineering; but also computer and information science, education and human resources, ethics and value studies, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

The ORU maintains a database of additional summer research opportunities for interested students. These programs range from those sponsored at individual institutions, such as the Princeton Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (February 1 deadline), to those offered directly by public and private agencies, such as the summer internship in environmental health (January 28 deadline) offered by the Center for Disease Control or the summer research diversity fellowships in law and social science (February 15 deadline) from the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. One final example worth mentioning is the Summer Research Opportunities Program (February 10 deadline), a collaborative effort among more than a dozen universities allowing for summer research experience at top research universities including Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern, Maryland, and Rutgers.

So, reach out to those students who are around for the winter term, and those top students you know who may be studying abroad or simply extending their break in friendlier climates. Make sure these types of programs are on their radar, and be prepared to write the recommendation letters to make their applications competitive!

Written by Joseph Johnson, Director, Office of Research for Undergraduates, Miami University.

Photo of Miami ecology REU by CJ Geraci, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Bee pollination class photo by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

The image centers on a green ball from which many green branches of various lengths and widths extend. In the background are many smaller red blobs with branches of their own.

Undergraduate plays key role in groundbreaking neuroscience research

In the foreground a young man wearing a white checked shirt peers into a microscope. Behind him, a young woman in a head covering and purple lab gloves looks at a slide she's holding. A computer, files, and lab equipment appear in the background.
Senior zoology major Matt Deer (in foreground) and doctoral student Aminata Coulibaly work in the lab of biology professor Dr. Lori Isaacson.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that affects 2.5 million people worldwide. As MS is a “silent disease,” many people who have multiple sclerosis do not look different from any other person, but suffer from a variety of invisible, unpredictable symptoms. What is predictable about multiple sclerosis, though, is irregularly functioning oligodendrocytes.

According to Miami University senior and zoology major Matt Deer, oligodendrocytes “provide an insulating cover of myelin around axons, facilitating communication between neurons.” The loss of properly functioning oligodendrocytes is linked not only to multiple sclerosis, but also to mood disorders, schizophrenia, and other illnesses.

“Since oligodendrocytes play such an important role in the normal functioning of the nervous system,” says Deer, “it’s crucial to understand the biology of these cells if we want to develop therapies to treat these conditions.”

Deer’s knowledge about oligodendrocytes comes from his work in the lab of Miami University biology professor Lori Isaacson. Together with graduate student Aminata Coulibaly, Isaacson and Deer have been studying the distribution and phenotype of oligodendrocytes in the spinal cords of adult Sprague Dawley rats.

In Isaacson’s lab, Deer has gained experience that is unusual for an undergraduate. When Isaacson needed new data on the cervical level of the spinal cord for an article she hoped to publish, she turned to Deer, who had by then been working with her and Coulibaly for nearly two years and was well-versed in the required techniques.

“We asked Matt to learn everything he could about the cervical spinal cord, learn how to identify structures specific to the cervical level, and then make slices of the cervical level, carry out experiments, do the morphometric analyses, make the graphs and figures, collect images, and then help write up the results section of the manuscript and add to the discussion of his data,” says Isaacson.

The article, which lists Deer as a co-author alongside Isaacson and Coulibaly, was recently published in the journal Brain Research. One of the microscopic images of the spinal cord from their article was selected for the cover of the journal.

“I have had a lot of undergraduates in the lab,” said Isaacson, “and most of them do not complete a body of work that earns them a co-authorship.”

Some of this was luck, she says – Deer was in the right place at the right time. But there was more to it than that.

“It takes a lot of motivation to collect the amount of data we needed in the amount of time we had and Matt had that,” says Isaacson.

Isaacson also gives credit to Coulibaly, who she says has worked closely with Deer over the past three years. “She taught him all of the techniques he used in this study. She’s been overseeing his day-to-day activities for quite a while. This project would not have been possible without her.”

In addition to the article in Brain Research, Deer also had the opportunity to present the results of his research at a Washington, DC event called Posters on the Hill. This annual showcase gives Miami undergraduate students an opportunity to share their work with members of the United States Congress.

Deer says he’s always had an interest in science, particularly neuroscience. “I like solving complex puzzles, being able to understand this type of advanced material, and applying my knowledge to further advance research,” he says.

He appreciates that Miami encourages undergraduate participation in research, acknowledging that his ability to work in Isaacson’s lab early was a key factor in his achievements.

After graduating from Miami this coming spring, Deer plans to attend podiatry school, where he hopes to conduct research to advance therapeutic strategies and improve medical technology.

Written by Nicole Antonucci, Communications Intern, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University. 

Photo of Matt Deer and Aminata Coulibaly by Miami University Photo Services.  Photo of neuron GerryShaw via Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license.

Picture of King Library at Miami University during Fall Semester. Picture of trees with fall leaves in the foreground.

Ribbon cut to open Office of Research for Undergraduates

A woman in a floral skirt and black jacket and a man in a sport coat and tie, both in the center of the image, use a giant pair of gold scissors to cut a large red ribbon stretching across the image. To the left of the image a man in a suit and tie uses a normal-sized pair of scissors to help the man and woman holding the giant scissors cut the ribbon. Three other men -- two in suits and ties and one in a sports jacket and tie look on. Everyone is smiling.
Miami University’s interim provost, Dr. Ray Gorman (far left), gives the assist as Sharon Mitchell (third from right), chair of Miami’s board of trustees, and Dr. David Hodge (second from right), university president, cut the ribbon on Miami’s new Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU). Looking on are Dr. Jim Oris, associate provost for research and dean of the graduate school, Graham Bowling, Board of Trustees student member, and Jerome Conley, dean of University Libraries.

Chair of the Miami University Board of Trustees Sharon Mitchell and university president Dr. David Hodge cut the ribbon to officially open the Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU) on September 18.

Mitchell and Hodge were joined by Board of Trustees student member Graham Bowling, interim provost Ray Gorman, associate provost Jim Oris and dean of University Libraries Jerome Conley.

Introductory remarks were delivered by Jim Oris, who thanked past and present Miami staff for their roles in helping create the ORU. “This office has been made possible by the vision, creativity, and flexibiity of those who came before me, of those who are here today, and of those who will follow us in the future,” he said.

After the ribbon was cut, attendees were invited to explore the ORU space, which is located on the main floor of King Library, in Suite 122. In addition to office space and a conference room, the ORU includes nearly 2000 square feet of advanced inquiry space (AIS) that can be configured to enable a variety of formal and informal activities for small and large groups.

Director of undergraduate research Joe Johnson and undergraduate research coordinator Martha Weber were on hand to answer questions.

The ORU is the first office at Miami University dedicated solely to coordinating and progressing undergraduate research. It facilitates research activity by undergraduates across campus and markets programs to current and prospective students.

A variety of buildings is packed typically close in this view of the Bangkok skyline. Shorter 5- to 10-story buildings in the foreground include two orange brick buildings and three white buildings. Tall skyscrapers are visible in the background, including one with a crane on the roof.

Undergraduate completes research internship in Southeast Asia

A young woman with long, dark, curly hair and wearing a long black skirt, red and black patterned shirt and black sweater holds up a piece of paper from a spiral-bound notebook. The paper has a hand-drawn Miami beveled M logo and the words Love & Honor handwritten in cursive underneath. In the background are a green lawn, several buildings with tiled roofs, a round pavilion-type structure and a brick building. A tall gold spire extends from the roof of one of the tile-roofed buildings, near the center of the frame.
Miami University psychology and pre-medical studies major Cecelia Favede displays Miami love and honor in front of Bangkok’s Grand Palace. Favede’s trip to the Thai capital in summer 2014 to conduct research on the community health worker system was supported in part by a research award from OARS.

Community health workers (CHWs) help aid public health by serving on the frontline and having a thorough understanding of the health situation of the community they oversee. They strive to be the trusted link between health services and the community, in order to provide access to appropriate services and improve the quality of health care in their communities.

One way CHWs have been able to better aid the members of their designated communities is through analyses of data collected from areas of service. This is the type of contribution Miami University junior and psychology and pre-medical studies major Cecelia Favede was able to make to Cambodia’s CHW program during her research internship this past summer in Thailand. Working for the Oxford University Nuffield Department of Medicine at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), Favede did intensive reading and qualitative analyses of data. Drawing on the literature review, Favede wrote a paper on the roles and motivations of CHWs in their communities and in the eyes of the academic community. Her analysis, which was conducted with NVivo software and a statistical package, allowed her to create a demographic breakdown of the program and form a foundation for future correlational research.

Favede was awarded grants by a variety of Miami University resources, including OARS, in support of her 2014 research experience at the MORU in Bangkok, Thailand. Her mentor for the duration of her internship was Dr. Lisa White, head of Math and Economic Modeling (MAEMOD) at MORU.

During her internship, Favede co-authored a paper analyzing the ethics of the CHW program as a whole. She also collaborated with White and Oxford University’s dean of ethics on a study that analyzed the sustainability and continuity of a CHW project in Cambodia supported by an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. In addition to this, Favede provided input on the ethics of mass drug administration in northern Thailand, assisted Thai PhD candidates with revisions for their theses (which were written in English), helped teach English at the university school, and spent time doing field work.

Favede has been interested in research since high school. As a junior her interest was piqued when she applied for a scholarship awarded on the basis of a scholarly pursuit. That project focused on the psychological and physiological effects of addiction to social media. “I have always been exceptionally interested in the diversity of application of psychological research,” Favede said.

Favede says her time in Thailand provided her with a better understanding of herself, as well as of the world that exists outside of the United States. She cites a favorite quote by Buck Ghosthorse that she feels describes her journey and growth in Bangkok: “Sometimes we have to travel to the edge of ourselves to find our center.”

Now that she’s home, Favede plans to complete the study she worked on during her internship, and anticipates doing more research in the future.

Written by Nicole Antonucci, Communications Intern, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.

Images by Cecelia Favede, used with permission.

Image of Miami University's Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU). Visible are a wall with "ORU" painted on it and three people standing in a circle in a glass-walled office.

Applications for two undergrad research programs due October 13

Origami version of a men's collared shirt, made with a $1 bill.

Undergraduate Research Award (URA) — applications for Spring 2015 projects due October 13

For over three decades, the Miami University Senate has sponsored the URA to provide Miami undergraduates with a faculty-mentored experience in developing grant applications. These partnerships are meant to encourage discovery and stimulate creative activity.  Typical awards range from $150 to $500, but individual projects of exceptional merit or projects involving student teams may be funded up to $1,000. Each individual or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame. The aim and result of specific projects supported by the program may be modest as long as the work can reasonably be interpreted as research or a creative endeavor.

Students may submit individual projects or team projects. Each individual student project or team project must be endorsed by a sponsor who certifies that the project is worth doing, has educational value to the student(s) and can be accomplished in the proposed time frame.

Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.

The Howe Writing Center will lead a workshop on developing applications for the Undergraduate Research Award program at 5:00pm on Tuesday, September 30, in the Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU) Advanced Inquiry Space (AIS) in King Library.

 

Doctoral-Undergraduate Opportunity Scholarships (DUOS) — applications due October 13

The DUOS program aims to heighten the synergy between graduate and undergraduate research at Miami University. The undergraduate student and graduate student will work together on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member in a Ph.D.-granting department. Either the undergraduate or graduate student may initiate the application, but the undergraduate student is to have primary authorship of the project.

The DUOS Program is open to any undergraduate student and any post-master’s doctoral student in good standing who agree to abide by program requirements. The selection committee MAY provide funding for up to 11 awards which will be announced via email in late early December. Each project may receive up to $1,000 total. Awardees must budget 75% of funds to be used in direct support of the research project. The remaining 25% of the funds may be used for dissemination of research results (i.e., publication costs or for conference attendance). The award amount includes $100 per awardee for participation in the required mentor/mentee training.

Full program guidelines and application instructions are available here.

Photo of ORU by Miami University Photo Services.  Dollar shirt origami photo by Leonid Domnister via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.