Centre faculty and students collaborate through LSAMP research

A number of Centre College students and faculty members are collaborating on research this summer, across disciplines and studying a variety of subjects. The research of some of these pairs is funded by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), a program supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The LSAMP program provides research opportunities to students from groups who are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields,” says John Wilson, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Mathematics. “By giving students an early opportunity to conduct actual research, we believe students are more likely to declare science majors.

“The goal is to increase the diversity of students, graduates and eventually professionals in these fields who can go on to be leaders and role models for others to follow,” Wilson continues.

Two of the students participating in this year’s LSAMP program haven’t even taken their first classes at Centre yet, as they are both incoming first-years. Cruz Avendano Dreyfuss ’20, also a Brown Fellow, is part of a team of undergraduate researchers creating a computer game with Associate Professor of Computer Science Michael Bradshaw. The game, called “Cyber Knight,” incorporates content students receive in introductory computer science courses.

Dreyfuss’ fellow incoming first-year, Ana Gabriela Mira ’20, is conducting research with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Leonard Demoranville. Their studies are aimed at developing techniques that will detect and identify small amounts of pesticides on food.

Emmely Ovalle ’19, one of Centre’s first Grissom Scholars, is exploring electroencephalogram (EEG) scans alongside Associate Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience KatieAnn Skogsberg. By comparing the EEG scans of volunteers’ brains before and after using a mental training app called Versus, Ovalle and Skogsberg hope to understand more about the effects of mental focusing.

For the second summer in a row, JeCoiya Moore ’19 is completing LSAMP research with Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Wooten. Moore is classifying the different species of salamander found in the Southern Appalachian mountain range. Taylor Walker-Smith ’18 (pictured above), who has completed two summers of LSAMP research, is also collaborating with Wooten thanks to a grant from KY NSF EPSCoR, Kentucky’s chapter of the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

Centre first received funding from LSAMP from 2006 to 2012, and a second round of funding from the NSF came in 2013 in the form of a $140,430 award from the Kentucky-West Virginia LSAMP Alliance, based at the University of Kentucky.The award money will be implemented each summer through 2018 to support all aspects of student-faculty research. The opportunity to complete research projects such as these or an internship is guaranteed to all Centre students through the Centre Commitment, along with the chance to study abroad and to graduate in four years.

by Elizabeth Trollinger
July 29, 2016