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UW Students Awarded Mini-Grants to Conduct Summer Research

August 19, 2016
two pairs of students working at a lab table
Logan Fairbourn, a UW microbiology major from Cheyenne; Natalie Thibault, a McNair Scholar from Cheyenne; and Summer Research Apprentice Program students Emili Rosado Rodriguez, of Juncos, Puerto Rico; and Jacky Chu, of San Francisco, Calif., conduct research in a UW microbiology laboratory. (Jesse C. Hinshaw Photo)

Eleven University of Wyoming students received mini-grants from the Wyoming Research Scholars Program (WRSP) to conduct various research projects earlier this summer.

The WRSP, a UW Science Initiative-supported program, pairs undergraduate students with faculty mentors who can model the scholarship, teaching, service and outreach activities of a professional scientist.

The summer awards covered the students’ wages during a six-week period (up to $2,700) and provided up to $1,000 in research supplies. The students were selected based on project proposals, essays, academic performance and letters of recommendation.

“We were delighted to offer these awards to give undergraduate science students opportunities to conduct summer research,” says Jamie Crait, WRSP director. “Typically, students are able to immerse themselves more deeply in research during the summer months when they are not taking a full load of classes. Research experiences help boost students’ resumes and make them more competitive in the workforce after graduation.”

Logan Fairbourn, a microbiology major from Cheyenne and a McNair Scholar, used his mini-grant to research bacterial cellulose. He worked with fellow McNair Scholar Natalie Thibault, of Cheyenne, and Summer Research Apprentice Program students Jacky Chu, of San Francisco, Calif., and Emili Rosado Rodriguez, of Juncos, Puerto Rico.

“My team and I worked to characterize bacterial cellulose fibers and evaluate their potential for use as an alternative, ‘green’ textile,” Fairbourn says. “The mini-grant provided my team with the funding we needed to purchase necessary supplies that would have otherwise been out of our reach.”

Fairbourn says his summer research experience provided several benefits.

“I was able to work closely with my faculty mentor and forge collaborations spanning departments,” he says. “I was able to learn more than I could have ever imagined.”

For more information about the WRSP, visit the website at

Mini-grant recipients, listed by hometowns, majors, project titles and UW faculty mentors, are:

Albin -- Susan Schmidt, molecular biology and microbiology, “Glycoengineering insect cells for structural biological applications,” Donald Jarvis.

Anchorage, Alaska -- Mary Uselmann, chemical engineering, “Glycoengineering insect cells for structural biological applications,” Joseph Holles.

Blair, Neb. -- Tim Halstead, geology, “Long-term drought and effects on lake hydrology, Snowy Range, Wyoming,” Bryan Shuman.

Casper -- Rida Fatima, microbiology and molecular biology, “NK cell fate mapping during adaptive immunity to Toxoplasma gondii,” Jason Gigley.

Cheyenne -- Logan Fairbourn, microbiology, “Bacterial cellulose: determining fiber properties and surmising application potentials as they relate to the textile industry,” Rachel Watson.

Cody -- Holly Ramseier, chemical engineering, “Generating circadian clock data for Wyoming populations of Boechera stricta,” Cynthia Weinig.

Fairfield, Maine -- Sawyer Letourneau, chemical engineering (biological engineering), “Study of bacterial strains that exhibit ligninolytic and aromatic degradation potential,” Karen Wawrousek.

Harrisburg, Neb. -- Rebecca Brenner, physiology, “Peace in the middle yeast: a competitive and cooperative cellular colony,” Zhaojie Zhang.

Louisville, Colo. -- Katie Nelson, molecular biology and chemical engineering, “Inertial focusing used to separate Xenopus embryo nuclei for droplet encapsulation,” Daniel Levy.

Powell -- Kadi Cooley, physiology, “A comparative study of health literacy predictors in persons with serious mental illness and diabetes,” Christine McKibbin.

Wright -- Jaycey Lindsey, animal and veterinary science, “Developing strategies for artificially breeding captive wild bird species to facilitate studies of learning and memory,” Jonathan Prather.

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