Summer Science Research

Published: August 11, 2023

Author: Julia Roat-Abla

Students drive scientific inquiry with persistence and perspective

Summer Science Research

When graduate schools and employers in science, technology, engineering, and math seek qualified applicants, GU undergraduates can add formal research experience to their resumes.

Seven students spent six weeks this summer participating in four biology, math, and chemistry projects.

Mark Nguyen and Phuong Le studied the effect of kava roots on the nematode nervous system. They implemented a new technique using fluorescent dye to track the reaction of nematode worms to kava's sedative and analgesic properties.

Nguyen, a pre-med student, embraces the ups and downs of the scientific process. He considers the failures as valuable as the successes. "In a classroom, if I encounter a difficult problem, I always know where to find the right answer. But while we were doing the research, there was no "right answer" I could look for. We had to experiment and fail. So many times, I thought we would succeed, but not quite. Fortunately, after two weeks, we found a solution."

Those incremental steps toward success eventually yielded fruit. The projects advance knowledge in the field of study and challenge students as they work through the scientific process. Whether developing and refining their hypothesis, fine-tuning methodology, improving the process of gathering and analyzing of data, or discovering new avenues of inquiry, students become better researchers and gain essential skills. "We are confident that we created a great procedure," Nguyen said.

Donors funded his kava root research, and three other projects, through the Catalyst Fund.

The three other summer projects are:

• Minh Do and Thomas Fike used artificial neural network programming to predict Apple stock prices.

• Simba (Khang Bui) investigated the role of corticosteroids in the biosynthesis of Vitamin D.

• Katie Peppler and Adam Wellen continued a long-term project in developing the synthesis of lanthanide metals with amino acids. They further refined the coordination process so that crystallization could be classified to the point of replication.

Students who participated in the summer science research projects will present their findings during GU’s Homecoming Weekend in October.

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