BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A summer program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is making research dreams come true for students and teachers from throughout the country.
In the Interdisciplinary Materials Research Program, UAB Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Teachers (REUT) is funding 10 weeks of laboratory research for 16 students from colleges as far away as New York and Colorado and two secondary education teachers from South Carolina and Alabama.
The $100,000 program is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA-Alabama Space Grant Consortium and gives participants the opportunity to work in unique UAB laboratories under the guidance of faculty mentors.
"We give them research projects that are not standard, run-of-the-mill projects but that are real problems in the field," says Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., a UAB physics professor who is one of the program faculty mentors and a university scholar.
"I think that is why the UAB program is special," he says. "We are not running example projects but have invited them to participate in frontline research where our faculty is involved."
Vohra says the work provided by REUT participants helps advance investigations across a range of disciplines, which in turn helps UAB researchers discover results more quickly. Participants say they are gaining access to and experience with research technologies and tools that might not be readily available at their home universities.
The REUT program requires participants to complete progress reports and make end-of-term oral and poster presentations about their research experiences. Students are able to log valuable time inside the laboratory, and the participating high school teachers complete important professional development work that aids them in their classrooms.
"It's been a great experience for me because I've never had a hands-on project quite this involved," says Kenneth Scott, a senior from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. "It has been quite enjoyable, and I very much appreciate UAB's support in this eye-opening research experience."
"This UAB experience is going to make a difference as far as way as South Carolina," says participant Sandra Bickerstaff, who teaches middle school students in that state.
"I'm going to take the projects I learn about here back to my class," she says. "My students will be exposed to theory and practice, and it's going to be a great way to motivate them to get excited about science and engineering."
Projects in this year's program include investigations in computational physics, nanoscale materials, laser materials, planetary materials, biomedical engineering, composites engineering and more.
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center and the state of Alabama's largest employer. For more information, please visit www.uab.edu.