Three Southeast Students Receive National Science Foundation Summer Awards



April 27, 2007 – Three Southeast Missouri State University students have received National Science Foundation Funded Research Experience for Undergraduate awards for this summer. 

They are Ed Graef Jr. of Imperial, Mo., John Shoemaker of Sappington, Mo., and Robert Cawthorn of Jackson, Mo.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in several areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for that purpose.

The awards are competitive and typically only about 15 to 20 percent of applicants for a particular REU site are chosen, said Dr. David Probst, chair of Southeast’s Department of Physics and Engineering Physics. The award pays students a stipend and covers housing for the summer. Students spend 10 weeks at an REU site at a research university working with researchers on a project of mutual interest, he said.

Graef is a Southeast senior double majoring in engineering physics and physics. Graef, who plans to graduate in December, received an REU award last summer at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and worked with the Micro-Electro Photonics Program.  He applied again this year and was accepted for a second summer at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

“I will be working for the Micro-Electronics and Photonics Department with Dr. Jiali Li in the area of biophysics,” Graef said. “The possible area of study that I may be working in is Nanopore analysis of DNA.”

Shoemaker is a senior planning to graduate in May 2008.  After participating in a research internship with Dr. Peggy Hill, Southeast associate professor of physics, Shoemaker declared a major in physics. He also was accepted for one of the REU Programs at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and will be working in the Department of Physics.

“I feel privileged to be accepted into this REU program,” Shoemaker said. “It is exciting to be a part of real research, while still securing something that will give me an income for the summer.”

Probst said, “We have developed a good relationship with the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville because we had another student do an REU there in 2004 and 2005, and they were quite impressed with him.”

Cawthorn is a junior double majoring in engineering physics and mathematics. He has been accepted for an REU Program at the University of North Texas in Denton, where he will be working in the Department of Physics. Following his graduation from Southeast, he plans to pursue graduate studies in physics.

“It’s great to be a part of something like this,” Cawthorn said. “Even though I haven’t started yet, I feel I got into something only the top students get into.”