Summer Undergraduate
Research Program

News: The 2016 COSET SURP has been announced!


Students and mentors in 2015 COSET SURP

The COSET Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) was originally launched in the summer of 2013 with the primary intention of increasing enrollment of students in graduate and professional programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). COSET invested substantial funding to support students and faculty mentors in order to encourage more students to participate in SURP to improve their educational success. In 2015, a total of 25 undergraduate students and 19 faculty mentors from 7 departments participated in SURP, a significant increase compared to 16 student participants in year 2013.

Students worked for 10 weeks in laboratories under general and managerial supervision of Drs. Hyun-Min Hwang, Yunjiao Wang, and their mentors. The participants generated high quality research data in various fields. They also attended weekly workshops developed to help thembetter design and conduct research projects, analyze research data with statistical tools, and effectively disseminate their findings through conference presentations and journal publications. Upon completion of the program, the students delivered poster and oral presentations and prepared manuscripts that will be published in the Proceedings of SURP 2015.

Student participants sequenced the mitochondrial genome of hawk-owl to determine their subspecies; utilized mathematical formulae to generate aesthetic musical chords; validated the usefulness of low-cost compact earth-field NMR in measuring spin properties of various substances; studied visual awareness of rivalry images using a mathematical model; simulated performance of an electromagnetic suspension system as a new concept in space exploration vehicles; investigated causes of marine accidents in the Houston Ship Channel in order to reduce human errors in the future; and conducted various other top notch innovative research projects, and obtained hands-on research experience.

Two surveys, performed at the beginning and the end of the program, show that upon completion of SURP, students are confident that they can conduct research projects themselves with minimal supervision from mentors, indicating they are well-trained. Students also felt that the SURP experience increased their aspirations toward STEM graduate programs and would facilitate their matriculation into those programs and significantly contribute to increased representation of African-Americans in STEM graduate programs, a rate that is currently lower than 5%. Overall, it is obvious that SURP provides many short- and long-term benefits for students’ success in academic achievements and professional employment. SURP clearly increases retention of undergraduate students and connects them with graduate degrees.