Campus News

CURO exposes undergraduate summer fellows to research community

CURO exposes undergraduate summer fellows to thriving research community at the University of Georgia

Athens, Ga. – A summer break for some University of Georgia students has increasingly become more of an opportunity to further explore their research and career interests through the Honors Program’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO).

Thirty-three undergraduates have received 2008 CURO summer fellowships to engage in eight weeks of intensive research activity with faculty from a variety of fields, including journalism, ecology and veterinary medicine.

“CURO Summer Fellows have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills outside of the classroom by working side-by-side with faculty members during the summer months,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “Experience has shown that summer fellows go on to compete successfully for jobs and scholarships, as well as for admission to top graduate and professional schools.”

“The diversity of fields represented during the summer fellowship program enriches the experience of each student as they learn about one another’s research expectations, problems and accomplishments,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of the Honors Program, who coordinates the CURO programs. “The summer fellows come together at key points during the summer and serve as support and encouragement to one another. It is most exciting to hear future scientists, aspiring journalists, business leaders and artists share one another’s work.”

For Jung Woong Kim, conducting zebrafish research this summer gives him more time to apply the skills he has learned over the last year working with Andrew Sornborger, a mathematics professor and a member of UGA’s Faculty of Engineering. Kim is testing how recently discovered endogenous and seizure-induced calcium waves in the zebrafish brain change over time during the developmental stage under the guidance of Sornborger and cellular biologist James Lauderdale.

“The summer research fellowship allows me to explore connections between classroom learning and real-world problem solving,” said Kim, a rising sophomore mathematics and genetics double major from Suwanee. “This opportunity will serve as a sound foundation upon which I can build throughout my undergraduate career.”

Laura Wynn’s summer project analyzing selected Turkish-German literature is a continuation of her freshman year research efforts through CURO’s apprentice program. Under the guidance of Germanic and Slavic languages department head Martin Kagel, Wynn is studying the identity and cultural heritage ideas presented in the writings of Dilek Güngör and other female second-generation authors since Germany’s reunification. Some of Wynn’s previous research assisted Kagel when he organized a German studies conference at UGA in March in which Güngör was a guest speaker.

“Research means so much to me because I love expanding my knowledge of German culture as I hope to one day work as a lawyer for a German company both in the U.S. and Germany,” said Wynn, a rising sophomore German and business double major from Dunwoody. “A thorough knowledge of Germany and its culture is key to being an effective participant in the business world.”

Manouela Valtcheva’s first exposure to neuroscience occurred when she interned with a neurosurgeon during high school and her interest grew when she came to UGA and began working as a research assistant for Jennifer McDowell, a psychology professor who co-directs UGA’s Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory.

Now Valtcheva’s summer project is focused on finding deficit-like symptoms in undergraduates with no family history of psychiatric illness by comparing their specific neurocognitive functions and characteristics to patients diagnosed with deficit syndrome, a more severe and enduring form of schizophrenia.

“I am very excited to begin my research because I feel it will be a very immersive experience from which I will learn immensely,” said Valtcheva, a rising junior biology and psychology double major from Alpharetta. “The fellowship program not only gives me the opportunity to truly learn what it takes to be a researcher, but also the experience that most undergraduates do not receive before they begin deciding whether or not they want to begin a career in investigative research.”

The fellowships are sponsored by UGA’s Honors Program, the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UGA Alumni Association, the Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and the Bill and Jane Young Honors Summer Fellowship.

For more information on CURO’s summer fellows program, see

The 2008 CURO summer fellows are:

From Georgia

Name, Hometown, Major(s)

Zachary Anderson, Athens, anthropology

Matthew Belcher, Marietta, biochemistry and molecular biology

Mary Elizabeth Blume, Athens, art history, Spanish, Italian

Melissa Brody, Sandy Springs, ecology, biology

Carolyn Crist, Newnan, journalism (newspapers)

Matthew Logan Davis, Mount Airy, psychology, cellular biology

Rebecca Greenberg, Decatur, biology, psychology

Marcus Hines, Albany, biology

Tyler Kelly, Alpharetta, mathematics, Romance languages

Jung Woong Kim, Suwanee, mathematics, genetics

Jennifer Lee, Fayetteville, psychology

Sharon McCoy, Evans, Spanish, international affairs

Kate McGlamry, Atlanta, environmental health science

Alice Meagher, Athens, biology

Madison Moore, Macon, biology, psychology

Emily Myers, Marietta, international affairs, French

Kelly Nielsen, Brooklet, theatre

Sean O’Rourke, Newnan, exercise and sport science

Julie Patel, Lilburn, international affairs, international business

Neil Pfister, Suwanee, biochemistry and molecular biology, genetics

Stefann Plishka, Atlanta, history

Katie Pyne, Duluth, international affairs, telecommunication arts

Joseph Rimando, Warner Robins, microbiology

Aalok Sanjanwala, Cumming, biology

Neeraj Sriram, Athens, biochemistry, statistics

Giridhar Subramanian, Marietta, international affairs, marketing

Aileen Thomas, Columbus, statistics, mathematics, German

Kathryn Turner, West Point, biology, psychology

Manouela Valtcheva, Alpharetta, psychology, biology

Hunter Wilson, Carrollton, chemistry, genetics

Laura Wynn, Dunwoody, German, business

From Out-of-State

Haylee Humes , Knoxville, Tenn., biology, psychology

Lindsay Jones, Jacksonville, Fla., biochemistry, finance