Campus News

University of Georgia CURO students investigate wide range of research topics during summer

University of Georgia CURO students investigate wide range of research topics during summer

Athens, Ga. – Twenty-seven University of Georgia undergraduates are taking advantage of summer vacation to investigate local, national and international research topics. These students are the latest participants in the summer research fellowship program sponsored by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

For the last six years, CURO has competitively awarded summer fellowships to undergraduate students to conduct research in various disciplines under the guidance of faculty mentors with expertise in fields ranging from international business and linguistics to biochemistry, molecular biology and infectious diseases.

“Students who have held CURO summer fellowships have achieved great success in recent years, as evidenced by the prestigious scholarships they have been awarded and the premier graduate schools they are attending,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program, which administers CURO. “We greatly appreciate the support we receive across campus for this important program.”

In addition to the Honors Program, the Office of the Provost, the Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UGA Alumni Association, the Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program, and the Bill and Jane Young Honors Summer Fellowship provide financial support for the intensive eight-week research experience.

Karen Wong, a rising senior international business major from Wilmington, Del., said that her participation in CURO for the last two years has led her to pursue research that not only complements her major, but also delves more deeply into her other interests such as philanthropy and business.

Under the guidance of Andrew Whitford, a professor of public administration and policy, Wong is finishing up her project investigating possible foundations for environmental sustainability as
measured across countries with varying social, economic, political and geographic characteristics. She hopes that paper will be published in the Political Research Quarterly, a peer-reviewed political science journal.

Wong also will be working on finishing a second paper about global transfer pricing policy practices, which refers to the pricing of goods and services among divisions of multinational corporations. She and Whitford presented the first draft of that paper at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting in Chicago in the spring.

“I think the summer fellows program will be an incredibly positive experience,” said Wong, who would like to pursue an M.B.A. in the future. “By having research as my main focus this summer, Dr. Whitford and I can achieve our research goals and I can gain an in-depth understanding of global business regulation.”

While Wong’s project has an international theme, rising sophomore Joshua Dunn’s research is focusing on analyzing the speech patterns of the residents of Roswell. He is working with William Kretzschmar, a professor of English, who heads a larger research initiative called Roswell Voices. Dunn will conduct interviews with people in the 18-30 age group and include questions about their lives that will be archived by the Roswell Folk and Heritage Bureau, a non-profit organization devoted to preserving Roswell’s heritage and culture.

“I feel hands-on experience and actual involvement in the collection of linguistic data is an invaluable part of completing my education,” the linguistics and Spanish double major from Johns Creek said. “Intellectual curiosity is my strongest drive and performing research through this program would give me the best opportunity to begin contributing to the field of linguistics.”

On the life sciences side, Andrew Kragor, a rising senior biochemistry major from Canton, and Kimberly DeLisi, a rising junior animal science major from Fairfax, Va., credit the CURO program as a path toward their planned future careers. Kragor would like to be a dentist, while DeLisi would like to be an equine veterinarian.

Under the guidance of Lance Wells and Carl Bergmann, both professors of biochemistry and molecular biology in UGA’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, Kragor is attempting to isolate and map the structure of alpha-dystroglycan, a protein found in animal tissues that has been linked to muscular dystrophy and cancer metastasis.

DeLisi is exploring how to optimize laboratory procedures used to determine fecal egg counts in horses, thus improving drug resistance diagnosis as drug-resistant equine parasites are becoming a severe problem worldwide. She is working alongside faculty mentor Ray Kaplan, a professor of infectious diseases in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The number and quality of the proposals for CURO summer research fellowships continue to rise as undergraduates seize the opportunities to study outside of the typical classroom setting,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of UGA’s Honors Program. “The initiative these students take to approach faculty with their research questions, the skills they develop in putting together the proposals, the self-directed nature of learning they undertake, and the interactions they have with other summer fellows give them an edge in their future careers and further education.”

For more information on UGA’s CURO summer fellows program, visit

The 2007 CURO summer fellows are:

From Georgia

Name, Hometown, Major(s), Faculty Mentor(s)

Caroline Anderson, Auburn, music and German, Max Reinhart and John Turci-Escobar

Joseph Burch, Blue Ridge, biochemistry, Harry Dailey

Amy Burrell, Loganville, biochemistry and molecular biology, Debra Mohnen

Lee Ellen Carter, Macon, anthropology, Fausto Sarmiento

Joshua Dunn, Johns Creek, linguistics, Spanish, William Kretzschmar

Katie Flake, Concord, biological science, Maor Bar-Peled

James Gordy, Ringgold, biochemistry and microbiology, Michael W. W. Adams

Jana Hanchett ,Athens, music, David Schiller, Jean Kidula

Laura Harrison, Valdosta microbiology and psychology, Corrie Brown

Clare Hatfield, Milton, international affairs and Romance languages, Stephen Shellman

Anna Hudson, Savannah, chemistry, Richard Dluhy

Andrew Kragor, Canton, biochemistry, Lance Wells and Carl Bergmann

Brian Laughlin, Dallas, genetics, Alan Darvill, and Sheng-Cheng Wu

James MacNamara, Atlanta chemistry and history, Timothy Dore

Natalie Nesmith, Sandy Springs, biological science, Mary Bedell

Victor Orellana, Suwanee, comparative literature and telecommunication arts, Ángel Nicolás Lucero

Tulsi Patel, Acworth, genetics, Scott Gold

Tomas Pickering, Athens, biology, Dorothy Fragaszy

Cleveland Piggott, Suwanee, psychology and biology Marcus Fechheimer andRuth Furukawa

Purvi Sheth, Lilburn, microbiology, Russell Karls

Traci Tucker, Roswell, sociology and psychology, Dawn Robinson

Jessica Van Parys, Suwanee, economics, political science, David Mustard

Delila Wilburn, Washington, African American Studies, Barbara McCaskill

From Out-of-State

Name Hometown Major(s) Faculty Mentor(s)

Kimberly DeLisi, Fairfax, Va., animal science, Ray Kaplan

Prashant Monian, Chennai, India, microbiology, Brian Cummings

Neil Naik, Columbia, S.C., biology, Ruth Harris

Karen Wong, Wilmington, Del. ,international business, Andrew Whitford