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Research program seeks for more students to participate

The Blazer Summer Research Institute is a competitive program for VSU faculty and undergraduate students. This program emerged last academic year through a collaboration between the Dean’s Council and the Undergraduate Research Council.

Through this program, students are able to analyze data or sources through research and  learning how to build and maintain a team to conduct research.

This program is funded through academic affairs through end-of-year funds. BSRI also receives private donations.

Since the program is directly aligned with VSU’s Strategic Plan goal 2, which is to expand experimental learning opportunities for students, it is easy for BSRI to get funding.

Jan Drake, chair of BSRI and professor for the college of science and mathematics said that this program could potentially help undergraduates increase their chance of graduation.

“It {undergraduate research} has been shown to help those students who participate greatly in understanding the material they are studying in the classroom as well as increase their chance of graduation,” she said.

It may be hard for students to partake in research projects during the academic year due to the number of classes being taken, working jobs, and family requirements. Drake stated that BSRI specifically occurs during the summer to  give students more time to devote to the research opportunity.

“By providing students funding to support their research over of the summer, we are enabling those students who want to do research the chance to fully engage during those more low-key summer months,” Drake said.

Several successful research projects were completed last summer.

“There were seven projects funded last summer, which supported 11 undergraduate students,” Drake said. “The projects represented students from a diverse group of disciplines and research interest.”

Some of these projects included Dr. Meagan Arrastia-Chisholm and Jigzy Nwanegbo, Department of Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy: “Using Self-determination Theory to Understand Academic Motivation and Resilience in Adult Children of Divorce” and Dr. Ruth Renee Hannibal, Shelby Beckett, and Margaret Harvey, Department of Communication Science and Disorders: “S.A.F.E., Taste and Smell Training for Students in Speech-language Pathology.

Students that have participated in this program have said that they enjoyed their experience.

“It was honestly, one of the best experiences I have had on this campus because it really pushes you to work hard and projects you that much further into your field of choice,” Shelby Beckett, a student who participated in the program said.

Adrienne Womble, another student who enjoyed the program said that the program helped her learn skills that she didn’t have before.

“Although I personally don’t like public speaking, I’m glad it was a requirement because it forced me out of my comfort zone to practice and to become more comfortable,” She said. “The BSRI gave me a realistic idea of what to expect and helped me feel more prepared in the decision to continue on to a master’s degree.”

Applications for BSRI are now open and the deadline is March 13.

Written by Breannia Stillwell, Staff Writer. Photo Courtesy of  the VSU. 

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