Abigail Robertson (left), an incoming freshman from Pilot Mountain, and WCU senior Savannah Mosteller of East Bend prepare samples of bodily fluid on a microscope slide, which will later be used in data collection with a laser. Robertson, Mosteller and Geraldine Monjardez, forensic science research scientist, are conducting laboratory work through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program that is part of a long-term project to develop surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy-active swabs

The impact of product placement in movies on college-age individuals, the effects of inadequate cellular access on emergency medical services in rural areas and an examination of the function of an enzyme that copies and repairs mitochondrial DNA are among the topics being investigated during the third year of Western Carolina University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Ten teams, each of which include a WCU faculty mentor and a current student, are spending eight weeks on campus – Wednesday, May 30, through Wednesday, July 25 – conducting in-depth research into a variety of topics. Each team is being joined in its work for two weeks – Monday, June 11, through Friday, June 22 – by a Summer Scholar, an incoming freshman who will be enrolling in WCU’s Honors College this fall semester. Incoming freshmen with stellar academic profiles were invited to apply to the program, and those chosen were matched with the teams of faculty members and current students based on their academic interests.

The faculty members and current students are receiving stipends for their research work, and all the students earn three credit hours with an honors designation. The program, open to all WCU undergraduate students, is administered through the Honors College and directed by Bill Kwochka, associate professor in WCU’s Department of Chemistry and Physics, and Kloo Hansen, undergraduate research coordinator in the Office of the Provost.

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Originally published June 21, 2018. Written by Randall Holcomb.

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