May 29-July 28, 2016, Samford University will host a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program that will provide an in-depth faculty-mentored research experience for 12 students. The program focuses on multidisciplinary research to study interactions in complex systems ranging from the molecular to the landscape scale in a diverse Appalachian ridge and valley ecosystem at Oak Mountain State Park (OMSP) near Birmingham, Alabama.
Student projects may involve both field and laboratory research to address questions in ecology, biochemistry, population biology, botany, geography, plant chemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and pathogenesis. Mentors are from the departments of biological and environmental sciences, chemistry, geography, and pharmacy at Samford University. At Samford, undergraduate students become research colleagues. REU students have access to a wide array of individual labs, core facilities (e.g., electron microscopy, LC-MS, cell culture), and the unique Oak Mountain Interpretive Center research facility.
Students are expected to perform full-time research and to participate in weekly workshops on professional skills (i.e., ethical conduct in research, data analysis, scientific communication), career opportunities, and the graduate school application process. In addition to doing research, students will enjoy social activities, including field trips. Discussions with mentors, experts, and fellow students will help participants compare complex biological and biochemical interactions across research topics.
Students are selected based on academic record, professional goals and potential for outstanding research. Outstanding undergraduate students who have limited opportunities to participate in research at their home institutions and students from underrepresented minority groups are particularly encouraged to apply.
REU participation includes:
Application deadline is Feb. 15, 2016
All application materials should be submitted electronically to email@example.com. Please include the applicant’s last name in the subject line of all email correspondence.
As application materials are received, they will be posted to the “Materials Received” portion of this website.
The program is open to U.S. citizens who are currently sophomores or juniors.
You should use the online application form below. Once you have submitted the application form, you will receive an email confirming your submission. Please make a copy of the form before you hit submit. If you do not receive an email confirmation or you are having other problems with the submission of your application, you can send the copy of the application directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An unofficial or official copy of your most recent college transcript and a list of current courses should be included with your application. These should be submitted in electronic form to email@example.com. If you are unable to submit electronically, please mail your official transcripts to:
REU ProgramDepartment of Biological and Environmental SciencesSamford University800 Lakeshore DriveBirmingham AL 35216
Request two letters of recommendation from instructors who can best evaluate you. Letters should be e-mailed from instructors directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Write a two-page (double-spaced) statement that provides a portrait of who you are as a student. This personal statement should be sent as an e-mail attachment to email@example.com. This should include detailed and specific descriptions of:
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Student Conduct Agreement
Feb. 15–Application deadline. 5 p.m. Central Standard Time: Application deadline. March–Application evaluation, student phone interviews March/April–Students notified of acceptance. April–Mentors and students begin to discuss projectsMay 29–Students arrive at SamfordWeeks 1–2–Introduction to Samford and Oak Mountain State Park, experimental design, research proposalsWeeks 2–8–ResearchWeeks 8–9–Analysis, Writing, Student Research SymposiumJuly 28–Student departure
Dr. Davenport focuses on environmental health and aquatic systems--plants, macroinvertebrates, and fishes. Much of his work has been on the Cahaba Lily, which is restricted to shoal areas of the main rivers and tributaries of the Southeast. His efforts to protect this plant and its habitat were recognized by the Alabama House of Representatives, which designated May 27, 2006 as Professor Lawrence J. Davenport Day.Dr. Davenport combines his scientific and creative sides by writing a nature column for Alabama Heritage magazine. Twenty-five of these columns are being published as a set, Nature Journal, by the University of Alabama Press.At Samford, Dr. Davenport teaches undergraduate courses in general botany and plant taxonomy, plus a graduate course in wetlands in the Environmental Management program. During Jan Term, he offers natural history trips to Peru and Belize. In addition to teaching, he serves as director of Samford's Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship & Education.Dr. Davenport has won several teaching awards while at Samford, including the John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching (1991). In 2007 he was named Alabama Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Dr. Dobbins has always been fascinated by the natural world. After graduating from Auburn University, she earned a master's degree in exercise physiology (respiration and SCUBA) and a Ph.D. in physiological science (neural control of respiration) from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her post-doctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology explored the development of the neural substrate that underlies hearing, specifically the connections between the cochlea and the brain stem cochlear nuclei in chickens.Dr. Dobbins continues her interest in development by teaching embryology.She also teaches neuroscience, bioinformatics, human physiology and foundationsof biology. Intrigued by the interactions between science and the humanities, she teaches scientific inquiry in the University Fellows program. Focusing on the relationship of humans to the natural world, Dr. Dobbins and her students use small bottom-dwelling macroinvertebrates (insects and worms) toexplore the impacts of urban development on the water quality in local creeks and rivers. In addition, she runs a cell culture laboratory to evaluate native plants for bioactive chemicals (terpenoids) that reduce cancer cell growth in cultured cells. Deeply committed to environmental health, Dr. Dobbins sponsors student research projects in Five Mile Creek and Shades Creek in the Birmingham area.She is the coordinator for Samford's Earth Day, a member of the Executive Board of the Cahaba River Society, secretary of the board of the Friends of Shades Creek, and a member of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper Advisory Council. While at Samford, Dr. Dobbins has garnered several teaching awards,including the John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching(2008). Currently, Dr. Dobbins is co-PI on the NSF sponsored Samford REU, “Interdisciplinary research in a diverse Appalachian ridge and valley ecosystem.”
Dr. Fincher has combined her love of travel, the outdoors, and plants into her research and teaching. Her dissertation work, conducted at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, examined the chemical ecology and plant-herbivore interactions of the wet tropical forest understory shrub, Piper imperiale. She has also studied the diversity of caterpillars and their parasitoids in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Louisiana, working closely with many Earthwatch Institute volunteers.While at La Selva, Dr. Fincher served as program coordinator for the Organization for Tropical Studies Research Experience for Undergraduates, helping talented undergraduate students design, implement, and present a novel experiment while working with an established researcher. She conducts her Samford classes that same way, drawing her students into the field and involving them in hands-on research. She teaches courses in general biology, human biology, and ecology, while offering travel courses to Tanzania, the Galapagos Islands, and the western United States.Dr. Fincher and her husband, Grant Gentry, live in Hoover, Alabama, with their new-born son and two dogs.
Grant Gentry has significant experience as a biodiversity consultant in addition to his scholarhip and teaching. He teaches Contemporary Biology, Environmental Science, Principles of Human Anatomy, Principles of Biology, Foundations of Biology and Invertebrate Field Zoology.
Dr. Gregory joined the faculty at Samford in 2002. Prior to coming to Samford, he held positions as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at both the University of Georgia and with the U.S. Department of Energy at Ames Laboratory (managed by Iowa State University), and was a faculty member at Illinois State University.Dr. Gregory's research interests focus on the structure and properties of surfaces and films (both organic and inorganic) using a wide variety of surface analytical techniques: electrochemistry, mass spectrometry, surface infrared and Raman spectroscopy, and scanning probe microscopy. In 2006, Dr. Gregory received a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase a liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC-MS) for the study of multi-component self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of alkanethiols on metal surfaces:Multi-component SAMs of various types are currently being explored as templates for cell adhesion and growth, as surfaces which enhance human blood plasma coagulation, and as surface coatings for DNA microarray applications. In Dr. Gregory's research, mass spectrometry is being used to quantify the relative proportions of each of the constituents in binary mixed SAMs on gold surfaces, where the two alkanethiol constituents differ in either chain length, end group, or both. LC-MS is highly desirable for these studies since it exhibits the sensitivity to detect monolayer and submonolayer quantities of materials, and can detect all the components simultaneously. In March 2009, Dr. Gregory was awarded a three-year, $65,000 research grant from the American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund (ACS-PRF) to continue this work. It is expected that these studies will benefit the wider thin film community, particularly those having an interest in systematic control over interfacial film properties. Other recent work has involved using Raman spectroscopy to study SAMs of long-chain alkanethiols on gold and silver surfaces. In particular, Dr. Gregory has been interested in the nature of the electronic structure at the metal-sulfur interface (as revealed by mathematical modeling of the Raman data) since little is known about this region of the film. These Raman/modeling studies of alkanethiol SAMs continue through existing collaborations with individuals at both Illinois State University and the University of Georgia.When not at Samford, Dr. Gregory enjoys reading and playing the piano (but not simultaneously), and international cuisine (when he can find it).
Montgomery, Ala., native Drew Hataway earned a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in History at Samford University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Mississippi. He returned to Samford from "Ole Miss," where he taught as he researched conservation genetics. While in Oxford he also served as an instructor of biology at the Oxford-Lafayette campus of Northwest Mississippi Community College.Hataway's current interests are in population genetics and conservation of populations of a wolf spider along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, as well the plants of the rocky outcrops of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. He teaches undergraduate courses in Human Anatomy and Principles of Biology.Outside of teaching and research activities, Hataway enjoys camping, biking, welding, and cooking. He, his wife and two sons live in Homewood.
Dr. Johnson joined the Samford faculty in 2012. Before coming to Samford, he was an American Heart Association research fellow with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for three years and a senior research fellow in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin for three years. Dr. Johnson is a protein biochemist with a focus in enzymology.Enzymes are fascinating biological catalysts and most often the target of designed therapeutics. Research projects in the Johnson lab are directed toward the functional characterization of enzymes. Kinetic analyses determine the order of addition of reactants to and release of products from the enzyme and can locate the slow steps along the reaction pathway. The detailed chemical mechanism of the enzyme is elucidated by testing substrate specificity, pH dependence, inhibition and the effects of mutation. One enzyme currently under study is Tetrahydrodipicolinate N-succinyltransferase (DapD). This enzyme is in the biosynthetic pathway for lysine in bacteria, but does not exist in humans. While DapD has great potential as a target for the development of new antibiotics, very little is known about its catalytic mechanism.Another area of interest in the Johnson lab is developing new tools for functionally characterizing enzymes inside cells and tissues. Previously, Dr. Johnson identified some novel protein modifiers that are currently being used in biological and proteomic applications. The design and modification of enzyme inhibitors for in vivo functional characterization continues to be an approach employed by the Johnson lab. These studies employ chemical biology and cell biology techniques to compliment the classical biochemical research.Research projects allow students to experience a broad spectrum of essential laboratory techniques, including recombinant DNA and molecular biology techniques, protein expression and purification techniques and enzyme assays.Outside of Samford, Dr. Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife, Julie, and daughter, Charlotte, running with his dog, Clementine, and playing the guitar.PublicationsJohnson, C.M. and Fast, W. (2012) Pre-Steady State Kinetic Analysis of Dimethylarginine Dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH) from Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Characterization of a Competent Thio-alkyluronium Intermediate (in preparation).Johnson, C.M., Mozingo, A.F., Ke, Z., Yoon, D.-W., Linsky, T.W., Guo, H., Robertus, J.D., Fast, W. (2011) On the Mechanism of Dimethylarginine Dimethylaminohydrolase Inactivation by 4-Halopyridines. Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(28): 10951-9.Johnson, C.M., Linsky, T., Yoon, D.-W., Person, M., and Fast, W. (2011) Discovery of Halopyridines as Quiescent Affinity Labels: Inactivation of Dimethylarginine Dimethylaminohydrolase. Journal of the American Chemical Society 133(5): 1553-62.Johnson, C.M., and Rodgers, W.A. (2008) Spatial Segregation of Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Bisphosphate (PIP2) Signaling in Immune Cell Functions. Immunology, Endocrine, and Metabolic Agents in Medicinal Chemistry 8: 349-357. Johnson, C.M., Chichili, G.R., and Rodgers, W.A. (2008) Compartmentalization of Phoshpatidylinositol 4,5-Bisphosphate (PIP2) Signaling Evidenced using Targeted Phosphatases. Journal of Biological Chemistry 283(44):29920-29928.Johnson, C.M., Roderick, S.L., and Cook, P.F. (2005) The Serine Acetyltransferase Reaction: Acetyl Transfer from an Acylpantothenyl Donor to an Alcohol. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 433(1):85-95.Johnson, C.M., Huang, B., Roderick, S.L., and Cook, P.F. (2004): Chemical Mechanism and Solvent Deuterium Isotope Effects of the Serine Acetyltransferase from Haemophilus Influenzae. Biochemistry 43(49): 15534-15539.Johnson, C.M., Huang, B., Roderick, S.L., and Cook, P.F. (2004): Kinetic Mechanism of the Serine Acetyltransferase from Haemophilus Influenzae. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 429(2) 115-122.Tai, C.–H, Burkhard, P., Gani, D., Jenn, T., Johnson, C., and Cook, P.F. (2001): Characterization of the Allosteric Anion-Binding Site of O-Acetylserine Sulfhydyrlase. Biochemistry 40: 7446-7452.
Dr. Johnson has been associated with Samford University since 1967 -- first as an undergraduate, then as a Masters student, then as a visiting professor during two missionary sabbaticals, and most recently (since Fall 2008) as a full-time faculty member. Prior to this final appointment, he spent nearly twenty years as a teaching missionary at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan.Dr. Johnson's expertise is genetics and molecular biology, so at Samford he handles Genetics, Experimental Genetics, and Cell & Molecular Biology. In his Experimental Genetics class likes his students to get "hands on" experience and so they perform a variety of exercises including karyotyping, fruit fly crosses, gene cloning, and DNA sequencing.Dr. Johnson's research interests are in several fields of genetics and molecular biology, using DNA to investigate problems from honeybee parasites to molecular identification of local single-celled organisms to the diet of the invasive kudzu bug.Dr. Johnson and his wife, Robin, have two grown children and two grandchildren. They enjoy entertaining students at their annual Halloween and St. Patrick's Day parties. Find Dr. Johnson's personal page here.
I am interested in investigating the potential effects of plant extracts on cells in culture. This project will include the collection of plants indigenous to Oak Mountain, the extraction of bioactive compounds from those plants and subsequent treatment of cell lines in culture with the extracted compound. Following the treatment with the extracted compound, you will run experiments in the laboratory to determine the protective or toxic effect of the compound in question using a wide variety of laboratory techniques. These techniques will help us to determine the trophic effects of the compound as well as which cell pathways are activated following treatment. This project will be ideal for someone who is interested in working in the laboratory learning cell culture techniques for growing, harvesting and processing cells for use in Western blot, PCR, immunocytochemistry, ELISA assays, etc.
Paul Wiget (pronounced wig – et),
joined the Samford family in the fall of 2014. During his undergraduate
research as a chemical engineering major, he discovered his love of organic
chemistry, synthesizing triphenylenes and porphyrins for use as anion receptors.
He so enjoyed organic chemistry that he continued his education working under
Dr. James W. Herndon as a doctoral candidate. His dissertation, titled “The
Synthesis of Dienylfurans and Their Reaction with Electron-deficient Alkynes,”
describes efforts to construct the carbon skeleton of eluetherobin, a potent
anti-cancer agent using a newly discovered [8+2] cycloaddition reaction. After receiving
his Ph.D., he performed postdoctoral research at the University of Texas at
Austin under the joint direction of Dr. Eric V. Anslyn and Dr. Jon D. Robertus,
where he synthesized small-molecule inhibitors for the biotoxin ricin and
analyzed their protein-bound crystal structure. In order to prepare for a
teaching position at a liberal arts college, he then took a position as a
teaching and research postdoctoral scholar at Villanova University to teach
organic chemistry at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and to supervise
undergraduate research. Dr. Wiget loves teaching. He
finds it exhilarating, exhausting, and probably one of the most rewarding aspects
of his life. He brings passion and excitement for the subject to every lecture,
every teaching laboratory, and every research project. His enjoyment of and
success in lecturing has been matched and enhanced by successful student-mentor
collaborations in the laboratory. Dr. Wiget wants you!Rooted in Samford University’s
commitment to pre-professional degree paths such as pre-med, pre-pharm, and
nursing, Dr. Wiget is devoted to providing every Samford undergraduate student
the opportunity to perform publishable research, increasing his or her
competiveness in his or her career path. Dr. Wiget’s research interests lie in providing
students access to projects in chemical biology and other biochemical fields closely
allied with synthetic organic chemistry, through carefully chosen synthetic
methods. This research aims to develop new methodologies for the construction
of biologically active compounds in order to examine the relationships between
small changes in the compounds’ structures and how they behave in the pertinent
biological systems (structure-activity relationship or SARs). These new methods
then open the possibility to study the mechanisms of the reactions employed.
Additionally, the research provides avenues to improve known cytotoxic
materials, such as organoruthenium complexes. Through advanced ligand design
and the incorporation of cell-targeting peptides (CTPs), the organoruthenium
research aims at expanding the potential of these complexes as photo dynamic
therapy agents (PDTs). Dr. Wiget’s research interests are driven by a desire to
produce new or improved biologically relevant molecules for the treatment of
cancers and other ailments and to serve his community, doing what the Lord has
called him to do. When Dr. Wiget is not actively
serving the Samford family, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Carol, and
sons, Ender and Xavier. Paul and Carol are active in the Roman Catholic Church
and are certified Living in Love facilitators, actively promoting and teaching
life-skills for strong, lasting, Spirit-filled marriages. His hobbies include
playing with his children, watching movies with his wife, and studying and
discussing theology. He strongly believes that the beauty, nuance, and
complexity of chemistry are represented in the beauty, nuance, and complexity
of every human person. His personal and career goals can
be expressed by a simple saying: Scientia
Pro Amore Dei - Knowledge for the Love