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Released October 6, 2004


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 New Orleans.

"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 polymer expert."

Faulkner, who worked with soy protein to create formaldehyde-free adhesives for particle board, also said she enjoyed the "graduate school atmosphere."

"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 students."


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November 23, 2004 9:23 AM