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WVU Students Receive Competitive Research Fellowships from NIST

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Two West Virginia University undergraduates have been awarded National Science Foundation funded summer research fellowships with the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST SURF) one of the leading research organizations in the world and home to four Nobel Prize winners. The NIST is a federal agency that develops technology, metrics and standards that are the basis for innovation and industrial competitiveness.

Sydney Brooks (Albuquerque, NM), a double major in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry and the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science, and Tony Allen (Hurricane, WV), a major in the Department of Mathematics, are part of a select group of 130 students nationwide who will spend their summer conducting research in conjunction with NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland, near the nation’s capital.

Brooks will spend the summer working in the Material Measurement Laboratory. Allen will work in the Information Technology Laboratory applying graph theory and other mathematical theories to forensic analysis of footwear. As part of the program, all of the students will work alongside researchers on ongoing research activities and participate in seminars, gaining valuable experience in chemistry, mathematics and forensics. They will also participate in a research colloquium at the end of the summer.

The opportunity being afforded to these young scientists is truly extraordinary, according to Dr. Michelle Richards-Babb, director of WVU’s Office of Undergraduate Research.

“Our students are getting the chance to work with scientists whose sole focus is research to improve and enhance our nation’s economy, security and quality of life. It’s also exciting because we know that our students’ previous research is what gave them the competitive edge to earn NIST fellowships,” said Richards-Babb.

At WVU, Brooks researched methods for analysis of organic gunshot residue with Dr. Suzanne Bell. Allen previously conducted research through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Valparaiso University where he investigated unstable one-dimensional differential equations and the minimum amount of noise to stabilize the solutions. 

To participate in the NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, students must apply through WVU’s Office of Undergraduate Research and be nominated as part of a larger application packet submitted by the University. The NIST fellowships are just a few of the research opportunities available to undergraduate students through the office.