Undergraduates named 2011-2012 CURO Honors Scholars

November 15, 2011

Athens, Ga. – A group of first-year honors students at the University of Georgia is gaining investigative knowledge and experience in mentor-guided projects as CURO Honors Scholars with UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

“The CURO Honors Scholarship, formerly the CURO Apprenticeship, allows students to participate in original research from their earliest days on campus,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the UGA Honors Program. “CURO Honors Scholars thrive in a small community complete with financial support, faculty mentoring and guidance in developing writing and presentation skills.”

The 10 new CURO Honors Scholars join a group of 13 returning second-year undergraduate researchers participating in the program, which has provided faculty-guided research opportunities to freshmen and sophomores for more than a decade.

During their first semester in the program, undergraduates interview faculty whose research may interest them. They then select their best matches and work with these faculty 10-12 hours a week on year-long projects in a variety of disciplines ranging from physics and astronomy to art and international affairs.

The students also attend a weekly honors seminar that focuses on research theories and practices. Peer support and student-led group discussions are also part of this hands-on approach to learning.

First-year student Hope Foskey of Matthews, N.C., said she appreciates the emphasis placed on community and group support as she works toward a pharmacy career. She is currently studying the central nervous system in relation to the expression and mutations of a particular gene that has been associated with aniridia, a disease of the eye. Her faculty mentor is UGA cellular biologist James Lauderdale.

“The CURO program has provided a great foundation and support system for me as I begin this endeavor into research,” said Foskey. “Most importantly, I think the people I have met through the program have given me great friends, mentors and professional contacts.”

First-year microbiology major Babajide Oluwadare of Stone Mountain said that with his limited laboratory experience, he has greatly benefitted from learning about the introductory steps of the research process. Now Oluwadare spends his days working in the laboratory of UGA microbiologist Duncan Krause. Oluwadare is investigating the properties of Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a bacterial pathogen that infects the lungs, causing bronchitis and walking pneumonia.

“The program taught me how to find a research mentor and guided me through the different steps I have to take to actually begin the research,” said Oluwadare.

Second-year student Alexis Garcia of Norcross said her experience in the program has influenced her career plans dramatically since she became involved a year ago, working under the guidance of UGA international affairs professor Loch Johnson. She is currently conducting an analysis of all directors of the Central Intelligence Agency throughout U.S. history.

“The CURO program has impacted me tremendously and in ways I never foresaw,” said Garcia. “I started off at UGA wishing to pursue an undergraduate degree in business. After completing a few weeks of research with Dr. Johnson, I quickly changed my major to international affairs. I now wish to pursue a career in international law. ”

For more information on the CURO Honors Scholarship program, see http://honors.uga.edu/c_s/undergrad_rsch/curo_scholars.html.

The 2011-2012 first-year CURO Honors Scholars are:

Name / Hometown / Major(s)

Maria Cox / Peachtree City / English

Natalee Dukes / Conyers / environmental health science

Hope Foskey / Matthews, N.C. / pre-pharmacy

Tuan Nguyen / Douglasville / biochemistry and molecular biology

Babajide Oluwadare / Stone Mountain / microbiology

Elliot Outland / Alpharetta / undecided

Colby Ruiz / Valdosta / chemistry

Aveek Sarker / Duluth / international affairs

Cole Skinner / Savannah / chemistry

Courtni Young / Alpharetta / animal science
 

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