Campus News

University of Georgia CURO students explore research topics during summer break

Professor Nicole Gottdenker and CURO student Ronke Olowojesiku

Athens, Ga. – A group of University of Georgia undergraduates has been named 2012 summer fellows by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. They are spending the summer engaged in faculty-guided research projects on a variety of topics.

The participants earn academic credit and are invited to submit their research for presentation at the CURO Symposium, UGA’s annual spring research conference for undergraduates.

“CURO Summer Research Fellows participate in an intensive, immersive research opportunity, guided by their faculty mentors,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of UGA’s Honors Program. “One key facet of the program is that, through interaction with one another, Fellows discover how research is approached in different disciplines.”

Financial support for the CURO fellowships is provided by the Honors Program, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, the Office of the Vice President for Research, UGA’s Alumni Association, the Jane and Bill Young Summer Research Fellowship and the Shah Family Honors Student Support Fund.

Among the 22 CURO summer fellows is David Parker of Roswell, who is conducting neuroscience research under the guidance of psychology professor Jennifer McDowell, co-director of UGA’s Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory. His project focuses on neural control of rapid eye movements.

Pursuing bachelor’s degrees in cognitive science and philosophy, Parker would like to become a professor with a focus on the biological foundations of high-order cognition and consciousness.

“I would mainly like to note how incredibly lucky I am as an undergraduate to be so involved in this project,” he said. “Because of the CURO Fellowship, I will have many of the same opportunities as graduate students as far as exposure to the machinery, software and techniques that are required to be successful in the exciting field of cognitive neuroscience.”

Ronke Olowojesiku of Acworth said that undergraduate research has given her a first-hand look into the career she would like to pursue-a doctor of infectious diseases. Starting out as a research volunteer in Nicole Gottdenker’s pathology laboratory in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine last fall, she was involved in a research project by the spring.

Now Olowojesiku, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in genetics and Spanish, is conducting her summer work at the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies in Panama with Gottdenker. She is studying the ecology and evolution of Chagas disease, an infectious disease that affects about nine million people, with the largest concentrations in Latin America.

“Through the research I have conducted, I have learned so much,” she said, “and what has made my research experiences exciting and worthwhile is the depth of understanding I am acquiring about the topics I have been researching. Nothing compares to that moment when everything starts to come together in your mind, that moment when a bunch of seemingly disjointed and complex ideas start to fit together to make some sense. It’s incredible.”

Anna Wilson of Fayetteville is exploring the dynamics of the Latino community in Roswell from a sociolinguistic perspective. English professor William Kretzschmar serves as her faculty mentor.

“At times, it is difficult to balance research with other classes and employment, but undergraduate research has helped my time management and perseverance, as well as expanded my knowledge base,” said Wilson, a Spanish and linguistics double major.

After graduation, Wilson would like to continue her involvement with the Latino community.

For more information about UGA’s CURO summer fellows program, see

The 2012 CURO summer fellows are, by name/hometown/major(s):


Georgia CURO students

William Austin/Marietta/economics

Conner Blackwell/Woodstock /biology

Stephen Bocarro/Marietta/cellular biology

Terese Gagnon /Clarkesville / anthropology

Emily Kopp/Marietta/economics, magazine journalism, international affairs

Brittany McGrue/Alpharetta/furnishings and interiors, advertising

Tuan Nguyen/Douglasville/biochemistry and molecular biology, mathematics

Phillip Ogea/Kennesaw/biochemistry and molecular biology, cellular biology

Ronke Olowojesiku/Acworth/genetics, Spanish

Babajide Oluwadare/Stone Mountain/microbiology

Elliot Outland/Alpharetta/unspecified

David Parker/Roswell/cognitive science, philosophy

Anakela Popp/Cumming/wildlife sciences

Cameron Prybol/Milton/biochemistry and molecular biology

Nick Richwagen/Decatur/biology, ecology

John Rodriguez/Guyton/English, Honors interdisciplinary major (international development and human rights)

Cole Skinner/Savannah/chemistry

Brittany Truitt/Griffin/biology, psychology

Stephanie Wilding/Lawrenceville/genetics

Anna Wilson/Fayetteville/linguistics, Spanish


Out-of-state CURO students

Hope Foskey/Matthews, N.C./pharmacy

Devon Humphreys/Springfield, Va./genetics, Russian language and literature