NSF awards Rowan Engineering $360,000+ for national Research Experience for Undergraduates

NSF awards Rowan Engineering $360,000+ for national Research Experience for Undergraduates

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Thanks to more than $360,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation, Rowan University will open its doors during the next three summers to students across the country – and in New Jersey – who will help advance research in engineering, science and medicine.

The money will support a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site at Rowan focusing on biomedical materials, devices, therapeutics and emerging frontiers, headed by Dr. Mary Staehle, associate professor and undergraduate program chair, and Dr. Mark Byrne, professor and founding department head, Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.

The program will recruit undergraduates and community college students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and pair them with faculty mentors from a team of top faculty with major research laboratories in the College of Engineering, the College of Science & Mathematics, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and Rowan’s School of Osteopathic Medicine.

The highly competitive REU will accept 10 students each summer for 10-week, $5,000 positions from May through July, housing the students in the Rowan Boulevard Apartments off the Glassboro campus.

The REU introduces underrepresented populations in STEM, first-generation college students and undergraduates who don’t have research opportunities at their own institutions not only to participate in cutting-edge research but also to open them to such possibilities as earning Ph.D. degrees. The program’s goal is to train the next generation of scientists and engineers in areas highly relevant to healthcare and mentor them toward obtaining doctoral degrees.

Byrne said, “It’s about exciting that talent pool to ignite their passion for scientific discovery. They’re going to see real science being done, and they’re going to contribute to it.”

Among the research they will conduct with Rowan professors and physicians will be creating materials for new medical devices that mimic biology, finding safer means to deliver medicines more effectively and lessen their neurological impact, developing artificial blood vessels to study and potentially treat Alzheimer’s disease and other brain and cardiovascular maladies, and other projects. In addition to conducting hands-on research, students also will participate in professional development, mentoring and social opportunities. They also will mentor youth attending Rowan Engineering’s summer programs for high school students.

“The REU students will receive a holistic experience with training in a number of areas,” Staehle said. “We are really preparing them to become world-class researchers.”

While the REU experience expands horizons for students, the REU also benefits Rowan. “It brings in a number of talented students. It provides exposure of our cutting-edge research to other universities when the students return to their campuses and it increases applications for our graduate and professional programs,” Byrne said.

He added, “We have a mission to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers. This type of program will do precisely that, and we have a great team of faculty who are best in their fields to train them.”