As a rising junior studying Biology at Hollins University, Elaine Metz worked in Dr. Scott Salom’s Forest Entomology Lab with graduate student mentor, Rachel Brooks. They tested species of native fungi as possible bio-controls for the invasive tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Elaine envisioned the summer research opportunity as a first step to advance a future career in research and conservation. She expanded her knowledge about experimental design, data collection & analysis, and what life as a graduate student might be like.
As a rising junior studying Environmental Science and Spanish at Hollins University, Shannen Kelly worked in Dr. Jacob Barney’s Invasive Plant Ecology Lab with graduate student mentor, Becky Fletcher. The team investigated the intraspecific diversity and adaptability of Johnsongrass, a noxious invasive, by measuring photosynthetic differences between populations. Shannen viewed the summer opportunity as a way to hone her research skills in the field, as well as gain technical competency in the lab.
Presenting at the Research Symposium
A final Research Symposium is the highpoint of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. After dedicating ten weeks to the planning, execution, and analysis of a research project, SURF undergrads have had the chance to become authentic members of research teams by working side-by-side with faculty, graduate students, and research staff.
The research symposium gives these students an opportunity to synthesize their experiences and present their findings via scientific talks and posters. Elaine did a presentation about her research related to biological control using fungi, and Shannen had a poster about her research on the invasive weed called Johnson grass.