A white board in Tessa Weinstein’s Morningside College office is filled with scribbles, sketches and words. It all reflects eight weeks of research by Morningside student Travis Metzger into how to reduce the cases of microcephaly in countries affected by the Zika virus.
By Greg Forbes, Sioux City Journal
A white board in Tessa Weinstein’s Morningside College office is filled with scribbles, sketches and words.
It all reflects eight weeks of research by Morningside student Travis Metzger into how to reduce the cases of microcephaly in countries affected by the Zika virus.
“We’re primarily looking at mosquito populations and reducing the birth rate to do so,” Metzger said of the birth defect that sometimes occurs in babies born to mothers who have contracted the Zika virus.
“We’re looking at literature based on the United States, mosquito control program in the United States … We also looked a fertility rates and contraceptive rates in the country.”
Metzger, a junior math major from Garretson, S.D., is one of five Morningside students to participate in the college’s first installment of the Summer Undergraduates Research Program (SURP), which offers students a chance to gain research experience on campus before graduation.
William Deeds, Morningside provost, said the goal was offer students a chance to research a project related to their field without having to take time out of the school year or taking some focus away from classwork.
“It allows them to do the kinds of research that’s more difficult to do during the fall or the spring, because some require day to day or bursts of longer than an hour at a time to do that,” he said.
SURP not only provides undergraduate students with a rare opportunity to delve into the world of research with professors with PhDs, but a chance to do so in a familiar environment. They don’t have to travel to a new campus or country, meet a new set of professors or get to know a different group of students.
“It was a lot less stressful,” said Emily Stewart, a senior from Kingsley, Iowa. “I have a good relationship with this department. To be able to work with a professor and not have to worry about classes on top of that let me focus a little bit more on what we were doing.”
Weinstein, a math professor, said from a teacher’s perspective, the project is rewarding because professors are able to use existing relationships to help a student immerse his or herself into the world of research. And it can show a student, as Metzger found out, math is everywhere.
“My favorite part of my job is working with students and … the fact they can have interests that don’t seem like there is math for, and then there is. That’s one of the best parts of my jobs,” Weinstein said.
Students were paired up with faculty members and they produced an idea and wrote a proposal. Of nine or 10 applicants, five were accepted and given funding.
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