CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 1, 2015 – Colten Peterson, having just completed his sophomore year at Southeast Missouri State University, beat the odds when he was selected for a highly-competitive, coveted internship working on a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU).
“You do not have to be the best of the best to be chosen,” said Peterson. “All you truly need is a strong work ethic and a passion for what you are studying.”
Typically awarded to students who have completed their junior year, the Nebraska Summer Research Program at the University of Nebraska, where Peterson is interning this summer, is a quality, hands-on experience in an environment that fosters growth and advancement of student scholars. Students are given the opportunity to participate in nationally-funded research groups across multiple disciplines, including biochemistry, bioenergy systems, biomedical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, microbiology, nanotechnology, virology and others.
“I chose to apply for this research program because the University of Nebraska offers many research opportunities in nanotechnology and physics/engineering. The faculty is performing cutting-edge research and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Peterson.
Peterson, of Champaign, Illinois, is conducting experiments and collecting data that will allow researchers to develop highly sensitive fiber optic pressure/temperature sensors. He is collaborating with a mentor and graduate students to achieve the best results possible and will present those results at a research symposium at the end of the program.
“I have the opportunity to witness and personally conduct cutting-edge research in a field that I am passionate about,” he said. “This experience has allowed me to understand how research is conducted and the environment in which it is conducted. I now see that research is sometimes a tedious and frustrating task, but the rewards of success far outweigh any negative experiences.”
The intensive research program is designed for students with an interest in pursuing graduate education. It provides mentoring and research experiences and gives students a realistic preview of graduate school life, preparing them to take that next step. Students attend seminars related to their field and attend workshops about applying to graduate school, preparing for the Graduate Record Examination, interview etiquette and more.
“This internship and my college experience [at Southeast] have exposed me to stressful situations in which I have been able to thrive. I now know what to expect when I attend graduate school and conduct research. I am very grateful to be able to have an understanding of what my future may hold,” Peterson said.
After he completes his undergraduate degree with a double major in physics and engineering physics, mechanical applications option, Peterson intends to continue on to a master’s degree and eventually a doctoral degree and plans to pursue a career in either nanotechnology or aerospace engineering.