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Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Duquesne Hits Historic High

Since 1998, college students from Duquesne University and nearby institutions without top-level research labs have spent their summers on campus, working in Duquesne's labs under faculty guidance in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

This year, the number of students involved has reached a new historic level: 75, compared to more typical years with 45 to 50 students. These experiences are valued at over $300,000 and represent a "triple win" for individual students, who receive stipends for working in a research lab, knowledge from completing labor-intensive research projects and training to enhance their possibilities for future employment.

Young, well-trained scientists will be in demand to fill the anticipated workforce gap created by both retirements and expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) job opportunities, said Dr. Philip Reeder, dean of Duquesne's Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, a cornerstone school in the summer program.

"The Bayer School started the Summer Undergraduate Research Program to provide an opportunity for college students to practice lab research skills and methods, helping to cement their interest in the sciences," Reeder said. "Because students receive stipends, they don't have to choose between making money at a summer job or advancing their research skills; these promising students can do both."

A crucial key to growing this opportunity has been receiving external funding from a variety of financial sources-National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Duquesne-to support this year's contingent of potential STEM workers. New this year is Duquesne University's Pain Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE), involving Duquesne's schools of nursing, pharmacy, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, tied to the University's Chronic Pain Research Consortium and exposing students to pain research and pain clinical practice.

"Tens of millions of individuals suffer from chronic pain in the U.S. and pain represents an enormous burden on the nation's healthcare system," said Dr. Benedict Kolber, assistant professor of biological sciences and a primary organizer of the PURE program. "Scientific lack of knowledge about the causes of pain presents tremendous opportunities for students to participate in cross-disciplinary research and clinical activities. We hope that participation in the PURE program will help drive the pipeline for developing future pain researchers and clinicians."
The sessions, underway since May 26, will culminate on Friday, July 31, with podium and poster presentations by the students, who are rising sophomores to rising seniors. Dr. Charles Kahle II, vice president of research and development, coatings and chief technology officer at PPG Industries, will deliver the keynote.

"We traditionally have offered a full summertime research experience to students, including the opportunity to present their work, sharing it with peers, faculty, interested members of the public and the local scientific community," Reeder said. "We believe in the value of this research and in its ability to shape our next generation of researchers and leaders."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.