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Northwest student Jessica Bloustine shares her research of polymer synthesis after a summer experience that placed her at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Submitted photos)

Northwest student Jessica Bloustine shares her research of polymer synthesis after a summer experience that placed her at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Submitted photos)

Oct. 3, 2019

Research programs helps students test, expand skills

By Grace Niemeyer, communication assistant


Eight Northwest Missouri State University students concluded 10-week summer research placements through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) highly competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.

The research experiences placed Northwest students at institutions throughout the country.

“(NSF) affords students the opportunity to work closely with exceptional scientists who are addressing universally important questions,” Dr. James Campbell, assistant professor of biology, said.

For Jordan Winn, a senior cellular and molecular biology major from Clinton, Missouri, the REU program placed her at the University of Chicago to research optogenetics, a new technique using light and genetic engineering to activate neurons. To wrap up the program, Winn presented her findings at a symposium.

Jessica Bloustine participated in a  10-week program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that exposed her to varied lab techniques and analysis methods.

Jessica Bloustine participated in a 10-week program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that exposed her to varied lab techniques and analysis methods.

“The final symposium was incredible,” Winn said. “Being able to share my project with other PIs (principal investigators) and students in the program was so fulfilling, and it really made me feel like the project had become my own.”

After completing her degree at Northwest, Winn plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology and continue researching.

“Northwest has given me a great foundation for research,” Winn said. “My journey of becoming a scientist and thinking critically has started here, but it will not end here. Without the confidence Northwest has given me and the leadership it has taught me, I would not have done as well at the University of Chicago.”

Senior chemistry major Jessica Bloustine said the opportunity to research alongside professors and get one-on-one help at Northwest prepared her for an REU and her career. Bloustine, a native of Harrisonville, Missouri, spent the summer at University of Wisconsin-Madison, researching polymer synthesis. She also participated in an improvisation training seminar, which teaches scientists how to present their work using impromptu speech skills.

“This experience was a great résumé boost and provided me with life skills that I can use in and out of the lab,” Bloustine said, adding she also enhanced her time management and communication skills through the program.

Emily Wedlock, a senior biomedical science major from Mound City, Missouri, focused on research related to genetic analysis of prostate cancer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. After completing her degree at Northwest, she plans to pursue a doctorate degree and continue researching.

Emily Wedlock studied genetic analysis of prostate cancer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Emily Wedlock studied genetic analysis of prostate cancer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

“Northwest has prepared me for my future career by having multiple opportunities to get involved in the lab and other activities that will make me a competitive applicant for medical school,” Wedlock said.

She added, “Moving forward, I can use the knowledge I gained this summer in research as well as the classroom setting.”

Other Northwest students participating in REU experiences:

  • Savannah Baker, a junior emergency disaster management (EDM) and geographic information science (GIS) major from Gretna, Nebraska, conducted research at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Her team’s project, titled “Geographic Information Systems for Disaster Resilience Spatial Thinking,” focused on bringing the fields of EDM, GIS, sociology and computer science together.
  • Delaney Lynam, a senior chemistry student from Omaha, Nebraska, used modeling programs to study compounds for renewable fuel sources at the University of Kansas.
  • Amankumar Patel, a senior chemistry major from Vastrapur, India, researched carbon dots and Boron nitride at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.
  • Dakota Shields, a senior nanoscience major from Maryville, completed nanotech-inspired research at University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida.
  • Amanda Wistuba, a senior physics major from Winchester, Kansas, focused her research at Vanderbilt University on enhanced second harmonic generation in bilayer Au-CuS nanoparticle thin films.
Savannah Baker, a junior emergency disaster management (EDM) and geographic information science (GIS) major from Gretna, Nebraska, conducted research at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Her team’s project, titled “Geographic Information Systems for Disaster Resilience Spatial Thinking,” focused on bringing the fields of EDM, GIS, sociology and computer science together.

Savannah Baker, a junior emergency disaster management (EDM) and geographic information science (GIS) major from Gretna, Nebraska, conducted research at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Her team’s project, titled “Geographic Information Systems for Disaster Resilience Spatial Thinking,” focused on bringing the fields of EDM, GIS, sociology and computer science together.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704