Charles Dow, a University of New Haven senior from West Haven, is spending the summer studying chemical engineering as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program at the university.
The program provides students with the opportunity to work with faculty members to conduct in-depth, hands-on research. Students gain valuable experience in project planning, budget management, branding research, responsible conduct in research, addressing challenges and enjoying successes which can help them in future academic and career endeavors.
“The university has a long-term institution-wide commitment to undergraduate research,” said Carol Withers, director of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program. “This program prepares our students for a successful future – it makes them competitive for national grants and scholarships, graduate programs and jobs after graduation.”
Working with Dequan Xiao, assistant professor of chemistry. Dow is adding sulfur to titanium dioxide in hopes that the compound can improve the reaction rate of cellulose biomass as it breaks down into components such as glucose. He is studying the reaction rates at different temperatures and to see if the compound can be reused for multiple reactions.
“This opportunity is providing me with training that will be helpful in building my resume. For example, I am training on equipment so that I can characterize the compound I am creating with an X-ray Diffraction (XRD) machine. Without this opportunity, I likely would not have gotten this training and would have to rely on someone else to perform the XRD analysis for me,” Dow said.
The University of New Haven began the SURF program in 2007. The selection process is highly competitive as each of the 40 students in the program receives $3,000 stipend, a supply budget and free on-campus housing. They work closely with a faculty mentor during the 10 weeks of the program, and often continue research beyond the summer experience.