UGA undergraduates receive CURO summer fellowships to support research projects

Athens, Ga. ֖ Twenty-five undergraduates at the University of Georgia are using their summer vacation to engage in individual research projects guided by faculty mentors. These opportunities are offered through $2,500 research fellowships competitively awarded by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO).

“Our students are increasingly aware of the importance of developing relationships with professors as part of the undergraduate experience. Often these relationships lead to the students competing favorably for these immersive, intensive research experiences,” said Pamela Kleiber, CURO coordinator and associate director of UGA’s Honors Program. “Professors at this university are incredibly generous in their one-on-one mentoring of students as researchers. The best part is that the students rise to their expectations!”

The fellowships are supported by the Provost’s Office, the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute and the Office of the Vice President for Research. Four other summer fellowship opportunities have been added to work with faculty mentors in the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program at UGA.

Kimberly Ann Coveney, a senior biology and psychology major from Atlanta, is the first recipient of the interdisciplinary toxicology fellowship. She is studying how chemotherapeutic agents kill cancer cells in order to determine ways these drugs may be made more effective.

“I decided to apply for this program because I felt as though a research project in cancer studies could help me further explore my interest in oncology,” she said. “I hope that this experience will help me better understand cancer, the way it works and the methods available to combat this horrible illness.”

Her faculty mentor Brian Cummings, a professor in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, noticed immediately Coveney’s commitment and drive to absorb everything she could in her research experience. “The CURO summer fellows research program is an invaluable resource for finding these students and matching their interest to specific mentors,” he said. “Kimberly is a classic example of a dedicated and passionate CURO student, two key traits for success in any area.”

Kelly Proctor’s dream job of being a foreign correspondent in Asia meshes well with her CURO summer research that compares the coverage of environmental issues in Chinese newspapers with the New York Times.

Kelly Proctor’s dream of becoming a foreign correspondent in Asia meshes well with her research that compares the coverage of environmental issues in Chinese newspapers with that in the New York Times. Her summer fellowship placed her in direct contact with Lee Becker, professor and director of UGA’s Cox Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research. Becker’s specialty is conducting training workshops for international journalists.

“I’ve learned so much about the media in both countries, and I’m learning a lot of Chinese in translating the articles,” said Proctor, a senior publications management major from Urbanna, Va.

Students in the humanities and arts also benefit from a directed study program. Carey Kirk, a senior from England, took her psychology major and her interest in drama therapy to work with the ArtReach Foundation in Atlanta. With the guidance of David Saltz, a professor in theater and film studies, she is investigating the foundation’s efforts to use drama therapy to treat post traumatic stress disorder in children affected by the war in Bosnia.

“This opportunity would enable me to travel so that I can observe professional drama therapists and interview those who have been affected by their work,” Kirk wrote in her application letter. “I believe this therapeutic method has the expansive potential for treating those who suffer from trauma and for aiding others who have experienced such devastating large-scale events such as war and natural disaster.”

Since 2001, CURO has promoted a culture of inquiry at UGA by providing undergraduates a chance to better understand the research process through one-on-one time with faculty mentors. Their research projects can be in any discipline and often become the capstone of their academic careers in the form of symposium presentations, senior thesis papers or journal articles.

Summer fellows earn Honors academic credit for the experiences and present their research at the undergraduate research symposium CURO holds on campus every spring. They also participate in panel discussions throughout the year on the expectations and real-world applications of undergraduate research.

Most of the 2005 recipients are from Georgia. However, as previously mentioned, summer fellow Carey Kirk is from England and Kelly Proctor is from Virginia; Kurinji Pandiyan, a genetics and cellular biology major, is from Chennai, India.

The other summer fellows are:

Name / Hometown / Major

Grace Anglin / Douglasville / genetics, art and psychology
Ashley Beebe / Lawrenceville / international affairs and pre-journalism
Ingrid Bloom / Peachtree City / biology
Ian Campbell / Athens / religion
William Collier / Woodstock / ecology
Kimberly Ann Coveney / Atlanta / biology and psychology
John Crowe / Dacula / art (digital media)
Katie Griffith / Marietta / Romance languages and anthropology
Matthew Haney / Lawrenceville / microbiology and Spanish
Ned Hembree / Winston / chemistry
Alicia Higginbotham / Cumming / English and comparative literature
Scott Jacques / Snellville / sociology and psychology
Lisa Jordan / Suwanee / psychology
Andrew Leid / Tifton / economics
Jon McGough / Macon / biology
Tatyana Nienow / Valdosta / biochemistry and molecular biology
Erika Porter / Fayetteville / biology
Russ Richardson / Tifton / ecology
Rebecca Trupe / Statesboro / psychology
Dustin Williams / Clarkesville / cellular biology
Fei Yang / Athens / chemistry and genetics
Stephanie Yarnell / Big Canoe / biology, ecology and microbiology

Although part of UGA’s Honors Program, CURO programs are open to all interested students with a 3.4 GPA. To be considered for a summer fellowship, a minimum of one year of UGA coursework also must be completed. For more information, visit www.uga.edu/honors/curo.