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Wesleyan Students Engage in Summer Research Across the Country

Kristen Kelley ‘20 is a biology major and neuroscience minor who currently conducts research in Wesleyan’s biology department. This summer she is a research intern at the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy in the Promoting Academic Excellence with Community Engagement and Reach Multicultural Scholars (PAECER) program. Kristin is working in the Department of Medicine within the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine in a laboratory that focuses on studying inflammation as an intermediate mechanism of most chronic and acute diseases. “Through my program, I participate in a lab that addresses an aspect of cardiovascular disease, receive training in critical thinking and gain exposure to the complexities underlying health disparities. The program has enabled me to learn new techniques, receive training in critical thinking, be exposed to the complexities that underline health disparities, and network with professors, graduate school directors, and students in the physician scientist program.”

Through the Summer Research Opportunity Program, offered by Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan, Anna Marmolejo Rios ‘20 is working on the Michigan Study for Cognitive Aging and Diverse Elders. Anna, a neuroscience and psychology double major, is working as an intern in a lab that works to characterize risk and protective factors for dementia in a racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of older adults, specifically those from minority or underrepresented groups. “Throughout the summer I have learned so much about myself, the type of person I am and the kind of research I want to conduct. I knew I wanted to continue my education and ultimately earn a PhD in clinical psychology, and being here has opened my eyes to exactly what I am signing up for. Now I have a clearer picture of what my career and research paths will look like in the near future.”

Melissa Rey ‘20 is spending her summer in the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program at the University of Minnesota where she is working as a materials chemistry research assistant. “I do my work on a continuous wave (CW) table. For some background, electrons within molecules exist in a low energy state, or ground state, and can be stimulated into an excited state (higher energy). When we hit the molecules with a laser, the electrons go into an excited state but then drop back down into the ground state. When it does this, it releases a photon, or a frequency of light. This emitted photon lets us understand molecular and electronic motion, which is extremely important when making and using new materials.”

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