Two West Virginia University undergraduate students have been awarded National Science Foundation-funded summer research fellowships with the National Institute for Standards and Technology, one of the leading research organizations in the world.
Tony Allen of Hurricane, W.Va. and Sydney Brooks of Albuquerque, N.M. are two of a select group of 130 students chosen to work alongside researchers on real world projects white gaining experience in chemistry, mathematics and forensics at the labs in Gaithersburg, Md.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for these young scientists,” said Michelle Richards-Babb, director of WVU’s Office of Undergraduate Research. “They will work with researchers whose sole focus is 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 these fellowships.”
Brooks is a junior Honors College student majoring in chemistry in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. This is the second summer she will be working at NIST. Her research in the Material Measurement Laboratory will focus on the forensic analysis of artificially aged fibers, with an emphasis on the instrumentation used for examination.
“Working at NIST last summer was a great experience,” Brooks said. “They treated the students as equals and allowed us the freedom to work on our projects.”
Allen, a senior mathematics major and Honors College student, has experience researching pure mathematics and is excited about the opportunity to apply his quantitative skills to forensic analysis at NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory. One project will be applying graph theory to analyze shoeprint evidence that could be found at a crime scene.
“I'm also interested in using my knowledge of mathematics in a more applied sense, and this fellowship is a great opportunity for me to do so,” Allen said.
He is graduating in May and will start a doctoral program in mathematics at Purdue University in the fall.
NIST is a federal agency that develops technology, metrics and standards that are the basis for innovation and industrial competitiveness.
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 WVU. The NIST fellowships are just a few of the research opportunities available to undergraduate students through the office.