Students Gain Valuable Skills through Summer Research Fellowships
Students Gain Valuable Skills through Summer Research Fellowships

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

Cara Petitti ’13 hopes to teach writing at the college level and become a published author one day. As part of her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) she honed her skills studying the work of American writer Edith Wharton, specifically her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Age of Innocence.”

“After studying her life I grew to admire her as a writer and a person,” said Petitti, who conducted her research at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. “When I laid out the manuscript in front of me, I felt a really strong connection to the writing. I had never had that experience with a piece of literature before, and it was really exciting.”

As part of her SURF fellowship, Cara Petitti ’13 studied the work of American writer Edith Wharton.

Petitti is one of 24 students who will share their findings from the SURF experience on Friday, Sept. 28, from 1-4 p.m. on the first floor of Dodds Hall. A poster presentation will take place from 1-3 p.m., and awards will be given at 3 p.m. As part of the SURF program, students pursue applied research under the direct tutelage of a faculty member. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis, based on proposals that students develop with advice from a UNH faculty mentor.

Another student, Bryant Neumann ’13, spent the summer examining the effects of the drug Exemestance on breast cancer cell cultures. “Looking at the cells for the first time under a microscope was an experience I will never forget.”  

Neumann will continue his research during the school year with Michael Rossi, associate professor of biology and environmental science. After attending graduate school, Neumann hopes to pursue a career conducting cancer research.

For her project, Abigail Freyer ’13, a chemistry and forensic science double major, worked to develop higher efficiency thin layer chromatography plates.

“I was able to develop better laboratory and critical thinking skills, and I matured as a scientist,” she said. “This experience will definitely help me pursue my future plans of going to medical school and becoming a doctor.”

John Hamilla ’14 spent the summer investigating wind energy and how the geometry of a wind turbine blade can affect its performance. “This project helped me gain a better understanding of where my interests lie in regards to my future career,” said Hamilla, a mechanical engineering major.

Colin Bassett ’13 (left), who studied the small fiddler crab, Uca Pugnax, added, “As an undergraduate, I was able to get a glimpse into what real research is like and how demanding it really is.”

Each student in the SURF program receives a $2,500 stipend, nine weeks of summer housing on campus and a $700 allowance for research supplies and library resources. The initiative is supported through a generous donation by Frank Carrubba ’69 and his wife, Pat.

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