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SURE scholars present summer research

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences program offers students stipends to spend eight weeks on campus collaborating with faculty on a variety of projects.

The eight-week program gives students and faculty members concentrated time to collaborate on projects.

Many of Elon University’s top scholars presented research they conducted this summer to professors and peers Friday morning as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences program.

A total of 48 students presented posters to explain their research, including data collection and analysis, in two sessions in McKinnon Hall. Students’ projects ranged from subjects such as the seed longevity of Eastern tree species to the short and long-term effects on balance in young and aging populations.

Students from 21 different majors represented 17 departments from Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and the School of Communications.

The eight-week SURE program gives students and their faculty mentors a concentrated time period to work collaboratively on a project, said Professor Paul Miller, director of undergraduate research at Elon.

The topics of students' projects ranged from understanding individual differences in conflict management to characterization of volatile and semi-volatile compounds in rainwater.

“At no other time do we get eight weeks of concentrated time to really dig into a scholarly project,” Miller said. “Significant progress can be made as well as significant development—professional development and personal development for both faculty and students.”

SURE scholar Jill Wozniak ’15, an exercise science and public health major, examined the physical activity levels and sleep patterns of women between the ages of 18 and 59.  Each participant in her study was given a goal of at least 10,000 steps per day and an accelerometer band to wear around their wrists, which tracked their steps and sleep.

After several weeks of data collection, Wozniak, who was mentored by Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Svetlana Nepocatych, discovered that sleep patterns didn’t really change, but physical activity improved, especially during the first week of participation.

“Even though some went back to their old habits, they were still more active than they were before,” said Wozniak, who plans to continue her study.

SURE scholar Cara McClain ’14, a psychology major, spent the 2012-13 school year videotaping youngsters in her mother’s preschool in Durham as part of her research in the role nature experiences play in young children’s psychological development and environmental awareness.

She spent the first part of the summer selecting the angle she would use to analyze the data. During the second half of the summer session, she coded the data. Psychology Professor Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler was her mentor on the project.

SURE scholar Cara McClain ’14, a psychology major, explains her research to President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley.

McClain is still analyzing the data, but she presented some preliminary results. “I saw high levels of positive social behavior and very few negative behaviors,” she said. “There were high levels of discovery and very few negative emotional experiences.”

She plans to spend the 2013-14 school year continuing her analysis. She also will prepare a paper for publication and will work to present at a conference.

Founded in 1997, the SURE program pays top Elon undergraduate researchers a stipend of at least $3,000 to spend eight weeks on campus each summer collaborating with a faculty mentor on emerging research questions. Projects supported by this program exhibit the potential for scholarly publication or presentation.

The following students participated in the SURE 2013 poster session:

  • Art history major Bethany Hill
  • Biochemistry majors Anna Wilkes, Rebecca Schneider, Ann Marie Quigley, Kate Rasmussen, Kristianne Oristian, Natalie Clark, Taylor Davis, Lauren Sutherland and Mary Savarese
  • Biology majors KD Tousignant, Jillian Pieciak and Meaghan Fabrycki
  • Chemistry majors Callan Andreacchi, Austin Sowell and Erica Janik
  • Communications major Jason Waterman
  • Computer science major Colleen Brockmyre
  • Education major Leigh Iler
  • English majors Kelsey Comacho, Kim Lilienthal, Kyle Whitaker, Sara Alpert, Elizabeth Purvis and Michelle Nussbaum
  • Environmental studies major Jillian Capotosto
  • Exercise science majors Mark Timmel, Jillian Wozniak and Kelly Brand
  • Finance major Desiree Porter
  • History majors Claire Mayo and Patrick Creghan
  • Human service studies Eryn Gorang
  • International studies majors Julia Schast, Whitney Adrian and Caroline Henley
  • Marketing major Carling Andrews
  • Music major Michelle Warshany
  • Neuroscience major Graham Cochrane
  • Psychology majors Raymond Haack, Kristen Bryar, Cara McClain, Maureen Dinnie, Virginia Oberle and Alyssa Kendall
  • Public health studies major Leah Jennings
  • Sociology major Marissa Rurka
  • Sport & event management major Rachel Diver


Roselee Papandrea Taylor,
7/26/2013 11:45 AM