NNU News

Undergraduate research fellowships

August 11, 2014

NNU has a long history of faculty-student research through which students work closely with faculty members on projects in chemistry, physics and engineering as well as in biomedical and bioinformatics research. 

This tradition of research excellence and real-world experiences for undergraduate students happens primarily through summer fellowships. Students spend their summers in labs or in the field, making discoveries in a wide spectrum of areas. They are publishing their results alongside their faculty mentors, presenting findings at conferences and traveling around the country and world to work with amazing programs and people. 

“Research is fundamentally important to my chosen career path; therefore, this opportunity will better prepare me for scenarios I will face in medical school and as a physician,” says Savanah Edwards, a summer researcher on treatments for MRSA, the super bacteria.
 
Engineering student Drew Johnson, who has been researching new space technologies through NASA’s RockSAT-X program, agrees that NNU’s science programs provide outstanding preparation. “One brilliant thing about NNU's program is that it creates versatile engineers. I am really good in several engineering areas, am decent at others, and am not afraid of tackling new challenges. When I start my career, I can market to employers my specialty and my proven flexibility and problem solving.”

Research isn’t just about improving job prospects; it is also about developing students’ love for the sciences. Jen Field spent her summer in Costa Rica with an NNU team researching frog vocalizations. She says, “The amount of biodiversity just sparks my passion. It never felt like work, even during the late nights and early mornings. After grad school, I'll continue to be in animal science research, hopefully working in the field."

This amount and variety of research opportunity at the undergraduate level is unique. Often students don’t have the chance to publish and present or use cutting-edge technology until they are in graduate programs. NNU’s small class sizes and student-faculty ratio give undergraduate students excellent opportunities to build relationships with prestigious faculty AND to access state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. 

NNU couldn’t provide all these opportunities without the support of many partners. These research project are funded by grants from a variety of organizations that are interested in promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries and have confidence in NNU’s programs to prepare the best and the brightest students for these fields. 

Among those grants providers are the Idaho Space Grant Consortium, the NASA Jet Propulsion laboratory, the US Department of Agriculture and the INBRE Program. This funding is supporting 35 undergraduate student research fellows who work directly with faculty on original research projects. Examples of these projects include testing materials and electronics for space flight, synthesizing self-assembling molecules capable of encapsulating smaller molecules, using remote sensing to evaluate crop health, and researching the causes for illness such as MRSA bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease and the effect of alcohol on fetal development.

Dr. Dan Nogales, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, says, “We are thrilled about the research opportunities these projects will provide for our undergraduate students and look forward to the expanded opportunities for our students now and in the future.