HATTIESBURG - Fifteen
students from across the nation spent 10 weeks this summer participating
in hands-on laboratory research with more than a dozen faculty at
The University of Southern Mississippi as part of the Research Experiences
for Undergraduates (REU) program.
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation Materials
Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC), the program allowed
students to pair with faculty in biochemistry, biology, chemistry,
physics and polymer science, working in small groups on research
projects. For months, students worked under laboratory supervision
of a graduate student and learned about the graduate research experience.
"During the REU program, we attended introductory
polymer classes, visited several polymer industry labs, and we also
presented our summer project to the Polymer Science Department and
submitted a paper of our work," said Jawauna Faulkner of Hattiesburg,
a 20-year-old junior majoring in biology at Xavier University in
"I enjoyed the program because it exposed me
to a field of science that I knew absolutely nothing about, and
in the 10 weeks of the program, it turned me into a fairly proficient
Faulkner, who worked with soy protein to create formaldehyde-free
adhesives for particle board, also said she enjoyed the "graduate
"Everyone treated us really great and went out
of their way to accommodate us. USM has one of the best polymer
science departments in the country, and I was honored to be a part."
Students participating in the program were as follows:
David Macias, Hattiesburg; Ashley Cox, Laurel; Lauren Goodman, Meridian;
Jawauna Faulkner, Hattiesburg; Kevin Periera, Hattiesburg; Harriet
Crockett, Greenville; Jillian Danner, Columbus; Marsha Cole, Dallas,
Texas; Richard Barlow, Meridian; Megan Multhaup, Winona, Minn; Josh
Glessner; Blairsville, Pa.; Luke Kwisnek, Blairsville, Pa.; Alicia
Chou, Springfield, Mass.; Irene Gorman, Ashland, Wis.; Christopher
Sandieson, Franklin, Pa.
More than 65 students from across North America applied
for the REU program at Southern Miss this year. The average GPA
for the students attending the program this summer was 3.47. The
participating students have diverse backgrounds of undergraduate
majors, varying from computer science to plastics engineering. Students
were selected based on academic performance, education/career interests,
diversity of background.
Lauren Goodman, a sophomore at Meridian Community
College majoring in polymer science, participated in the REU program
and called it "the experience of a lifetime."
"I worked with Dr. Robert Lochhead in the area
of cosmetic chemistry. I gained a tremendous amount of respect for
the professors and students in the program and cannot wait to continue
my education at USM in polymer science," Goodman said.
Polymer science professor Dr. Marek Urban said the
REU program is a great recruiting tool for Southern Miss.
"This program serves the best qualified undergraduates
across the country, who plan graduate studies in polymer science,
biochemistry, chemistry, biological sciences and physics, or related
disciplines," Urban said. "For us at Southern Miss, it
provides an outstanding opportunity for attracting the best graduate
students to our programs. Many of them come back here as graduate