STEM Undergraduate Research Fills Summer Months

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STEM Undergraduate Research Fills Summer Months at Lewis University

Published: August 31, 2016.

Wound management applications, student success in math, ion removal, molecular cloning, cyber security training, computer coding and precision beam timing were among the topics of research this summer at Lewis University.

Students recently presented their work, including lab experiments and results, at the seventh annual concluding symposium for the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Undergraduate Research Experience (S.U.R.E.)

The S.U.R.E. program is a collaborative experience for students from multiple STEM disciplines to engage in undergraduate research, as mentored by Lewis faculty. This 10-week summer program brings students from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math and Computer Science together weekly to discuss topics, such as research ethics, data analysis methods, resume building and interviewing skills. They also discuss specific discipline related research.

“This intensive summer program serves as a foundation for more progress and presentations throughout the year,” said Dr. Sarah Powers, assistant professor of Biology and program director. The program provides the student researchers with a stipend and offers an experiential learning environment that accelerates their research careers. Many results end up being presented at conferences and in publications.

The program concludes with a research symposium to present to the community about their accomplishments over the summer.

At the Aug. 10 symposium students presented research on a variety of topics:

  • Katherine Wortman-Otto, Chemistry major, presented “Synthesis of Biomimetic Hydrogels for Wound Management Applications.” Dr. William Chura, associate professor of Biology, served as her faculty mentor.

  • Matthew Knight, Mathematics major, presented “Determining Student Success and Persistence in Mathematics Courses.” His faculty mentor was Dr. Amanda Harsy, assistant professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

  • Maria Salinas, Chemistry major, presented “Metal Ion Removal Utilizing Biomimetic Nanocomposites.” Dr. Jason Keleher, chair and associate professor of Chemistry, served as her faculty mentor.

  • Michelle Fernandez, Biochemistry major, presented “Analysis of Normal versus Mutated Cyclin D3 Protein Structure Using Molecular Cloning and Site-Directed Mutagenesis.” Dr. Sarah Powers served as her faculty mentor.

  • Randle Ross, Computer Science major, presented “Building a Scalable Cyber Defense Competition Platform for Classroom and Extracurricular Cyber Security Training.” Dr. Ray Klump, chair and professor of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, served as his faculty mentor.

  • Ian Scholl, Biology major, presented “Studying Evolution through Replication Errors in Computer Code.” Dr. Mallory Havens, assistant professor of Biology, served as faculty mentor.

  • Jackson Waters, Physics major, “Precision Beam Timing Monitor.” Dr. Ryan Hooper, associate professor of Physics, served as faculty mentor.

Support for the S.U.R.E. program is provided by the Aileen S. Andrew Foundation.

Also during the symposium, several students presented posters of their research. They were not part of the S.U.R.E. program, but focused on STEM areas. Student presenters at the Poster Session were Samuel Baker, Abigail Bieker, Samantha Brain, Fiona Byrne, Jessica Chavez, Kaitlyn Curtis, Eman Elshalakany, Arielle Floyd, Brittany Hauert, John Hodul, James Hofmann, Hafsa Khan, Lucas Kilmer, Alexander Klouda, Stephen Kurek, Joseph Lambert III, Daniel Lentz, Kaitlin Mach, Amy Mlynarski, Jacob Murray, Lorena Perez-Hernandez, Elizabeth Przekwas, Thomas Rickhoff, David Santefort, Cynthia Saucedo, Brian Sherry, Zach Struzik, Jessica Tabert, Nicole Tangen, Lauren Werth, Richard Wiencek and Nicole Yuede.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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