The Summer Scholars Program is an intensive hands-on research experience that allows students to collaborate with a faculty mentor in the process of discovery. Students are paid a stipend for approximately 20 hours of research per week and engage with other student researchers in professional development workshops and social gatherings. Enrolled AU students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.


Program Goals

  1. To support high-impact scholarly activity that yields significant student development and academic achievements while furthering the research productivity of Augusta University; 
  2. To provide intentional mentoring and professional development through collaborative research and creative scholarship; 
  3. To provide undergraduates with intensive experiential learning through engagement in research and creative scholarship. 


Summer Scholars Application Process & Timeline

  • November: Call for Faculty Proposals
  • November - January: Faculty apply
  • January: Faculty Projects are reviewed and selected
  • February: Students apply, interviewed, and selected; Matches are finalized
  • March: Hiring Process
  • May - July: Orientations; Program is active

2024 Summer Scholars Program

  • Session 1: May 28 to July 26, 2024 (9 weeks) 
    • eligible faculty may receive stipend of $1500/student
  • Session 2: May 28 - June 28, 2024 and July 25 Symposium (5 weeks) 
    • eligible faculty may receive stipend of $900/student




Application period for SSP 2024:

November 1, 2023 - January 5, 2024

Call for Proposals 2024

faculty application

Faculty Application Scoring Rubric

Application period for SSP 2024:

February 1, 2024 - February 14, 2024


 Tips on writing your SSP Faculty Proposal (including past proposal critiques)


Sample 1 Syllabus from Arts & Humanities    Sample 1 Syllabus from the Sciences
Sample 2 Syllabus from Arts & Humanities    Sample 2 Syllabus from the Sciences


Summer 2023 Scholarly Projects


The productivity of a researcher tends to be evaluated along only two axis: the number of their publications, and their citations count. However, preliminary research showed that patents, number of co-authors, clinical trials, number and quality of grants, and diversity in collaborators were important criteria in the success of a researcher. Hence, improving our understanding of what makes a researcher successful requires a richness of factors to be considered that are sometimes difficult to gather and synthesize. The study of this multi-factored path to success requires to fetch data from a variety of sources and to "connect" them in a central database. A first prototype tool allows information to be pulled from a variety of sources, but remains to "connect" them correctly. The tool conforms with all the standards in software engineering. In addition, its documentation, as well as its rigor, will make it easy for students and external collaborators to understand it and contribute to it.

Compilers are a required tool for any computer program to exist: they perform the crucial function of translating programs written in a programming language into instructions that a computer can execute. Numerous analyses and transformations take place during compilation to improve the quality of the program: error identification, performance optimizations, dead-code elimination, etc. This project involves research into the world of compilation and developing familiarity with topics often obscure to student programmers. The goal of this research project is to train a student to learn and become familiar with those advanced techniques that will be highly sought-after on the job market. This project involves rigorous and hands-on study of modern compiler analyses and program transformations, culminating in implementation of a transformation pass for the LLVM compiler.

Culture can be described in various ways. Traditionally, culture can be understood as the traditions, history, arts, and beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation. However, when reading about culture or thinking about culture, people are categorized or placed into groups based on seen and unseen characteristics which are problematic. Both an individual’s culture and organizational culture impact students and student education. Additionally, culture, when predominantly associated with race, brings up large inequities in higher education. Thomas & Quinlan (2021) proposes that we as educators need to reduce the engagement gap in higher education. This study intends to provide student-informed practices that can help professors/instructors cultivate more relevant practices that promote academic success for all students, specifically utilizing Ladson-Billings (1995) Culturally Relevant Pedagogies as a framework to explore and collect undergraduate students’ perceptions of their professors/instructors regarding cultural relevance. The purpose of this study is to collect and explore students’ perceptions of their professors regarding their professor's ability to be culturally relevant and then to integrate those culturally relevant pedagogies into the classroom through the creation of a workbook of activities and lessons that can be implemented in college courses.

While studies agree that immune cells called macrophages play critical roles in tumor growth, more information is needed about the precise roles they play in deadly triple negative breast cancer growth and ability to spread beyond the primary tumor site. Our recent data point to the interaction between two major signaling pathways (the NF-κB and CXCL10/CXCR3 signaling axis) that could influence cancer growth, and importantly, its ability to spread to distal sites (invasion/metastasis). During the CURS Summer Scholars Summer Program, undergraduates will obtain macrophages that lack NF-κB from our currently used mouse model to understand how deletion of NF-κB influences the CXCL10/CXCR3 signaling axis. These isolated macrophages will also be grown with cancer cells to see how their influence potentially changes. Importantly, we will test the influence of knocking these pathways out to see if distal cancer spread (invasion) is reduced. We will be utilizing siRNA knockdown of CXCL10/CXCR3 and genetic deletion of NF-kappaB to help answer these questions.

According to Santamaria & Webster (2010) the influence of fatigue has been found to affect muscle reaction, movement coordination, and motor control precision. Fatigue has also been shown to increase muscular activity during exercise. Findings show that it is more challenging to have proper landing from a single leg hop since one leg must supposed to stabilize the entire body and decelerate that center of mass in horizontal and vertical directions. It is important to understand the nuance of ground reaction forces (GRF) during landing and how these forces are affected. Previous research has used whole body fatigue to alter conditions but it may be more appropriate to focus on lower body fatigue. This project has two major objectives. The first objective is to determine if fatigue effects the ground reaction forces during landing. The second objective of this project is to determine if lower body fatigue influences the amount of muscle activity during landing. If these two objectives are completed through this project, more light will be shed on injury risk during sport and how fatigue may be placing athletes at greater risk.

This summer scholar project plans to involve undergraduates who are preservice secondary mathematics teachers. The undergraduate researchers will analyze data from a large research project funded by the National Science Foundation: Preparing to teach algebra (PTA) project. The PTA project explores whether and how recommendations from mathematics professional societies, standards for school algebra, and state-level policies related to algebra are addressed in secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs. Specifically, the PTA project investigates the opportunities secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs provide to learn about algebra, algebra teaching, and issues in achieving equity in algebra learning and ways in which secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs address mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). This summer scholar project aims to investigate a portion of the PTA data that explore the opportunities teacher education program provide for future secondary teachers to learn reasoning, proving and sense making, which are important mathematical ideas relevant to three mathematical practices described in CCSSM. The project will analyze the 40 transcripts of instructors’ interviews along with all course materials submitted by instructors. The extensive data set provides opportunities for undergraduate researchers to examine the data from various perspectives and make meaningful analyses.

Average lifespans are increasing rapidly across the globe, and older adults are spending more years of their lives in poor health with multiple chronic conditions. There is an imperative need in biomedical research to determine novel interventions that increase longevity while also improving health. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is involved in multiple metabolic pathways including the de novo production of NAD (a pro-health metabolite) through kynurenine, serotonin and melatonin biosynthesis, and production of indoles by gut bacteria. Here, we will take advantage of the Drosophila model to discover how genetic manipulation of the tryptophan degradation pathway influences health and longevity. Using already developed genetic strains with the gene knocked down, students will complete a longevity assay as well as multiple health assays. They will be able to determine if modulation of a specific gene in the tryptophan metabolic pathway leads to increased or decreased lifespan. This will provide more insights into the role of tryptophan on the aging phenotype, as well the potential of tryptophan modulation to be a novel intervention to increase lifespan and improve health across species.

High blood pressure is a very important clinical problem. For many people that suffer from it, the more salt they eat, the higher their blood pressure is. This is called "salt sensitivity", and it damages the kidney. There are no treatments for salt sensitivity. Here we proposed new mechanisms that may cause kidney damage in this condition. High blood pressure usually goes hand in hand with inflammation. Inflammation is very damaging to kidney cells and will lead to chronic kidney disease. One of the established inflammatory agents is histamine, and we know very little about its role in the kidney. Patients with chronic kidney disease often take antihistamines, and it has not been studied what effects these drugs have on kidney function. In fact, we know almost nothing about histamine and kidney function. Here, using a salt-sensitive model, we will test the role of histamine in kidney disease. This proposal supports the mission of the American Heart Association to build healthier lives. The study will have a clinical impact as it will help us understand if people with kidney disease and high blood pressure should take antihistamines.


Approximately 502,908 older adults ≥65 years sustain a concussion every year in the United States, and 80.1% of these injuries are a result of a fall.1 There are sex differences in concussion prevalence, such that 64.7% of older females sustain a concussion compared to 35.3% of males.1 Older females also report more symptoms (i.e., headache, dizziness, nausea, fogginess),2 have a longer recovery,3 and require greater healthcare use than older males.4 However, the reason for these sex differences is not well understood.4 Furthermore, between 24-84% of those who sustain a concussion have non-resolving issues of poor cognition, and impaired eye, head, and trunk movement 3 months after injury,5-8 which place them at a greater risk for falls. Given that falls are a significant public health issue,9 more research must be done to improve the health and quality of life in this population. Importantly, falls can be prevented through targeted screening and treatment protocols;10 yet, no studies have examined the predictors of falls among older adults with concussion, or whether they differ by biological sex. Purpose:  The purpose of this prospective cohort study is to 1) determine the falls-risk factors that predict future falls over 12 months and 2) determine whether the predictors of falls differ by biological sex among older adults with concussion.

Implications: The predictors of falls identified from this study will aid in refining falls screening protocols as well as targeted treatment strategies specific to biological sex among older adults with concussion.

In the United States, 40% of adults aged 20-39 are classified as obese (CDC, 2020). Over the past decade, obesity levels have risen from 35.7% in 2010 to 42.4% in 2019 among adults over the age of 20. With the high prevalence of overweight/obese adults, it is critical to explore potential lifestyle changes (including physical activity and nutrition) to improve the health of these individuals.
This summer we will focus on the physical activity component of this study which aims to increase time spent in moderate-intensity physical activity using Fitbit technology. Using the Fitbits, participants will track their moderate-intensity activity by following the guideline of a 10-minute walk. In addition to using Fitbits, participants will be asked to download a phone app to assist them with navigating the multiple aspects of the study such as scheduling visits, entering nutrition logs, and tracking physical activity.
This study is innovative as it delivers a comprehensive weight loss plan to participants remotely. Developing interventions using smartphone technology has been recognized as a feasible next step for physical activity specifically for overweight, obese young adults. The purpose of this study is to measure change in time spent in moderate-intensity physical activity over a year-long intervention.

In the Langridge lab we study how cells communicate with one another, specifically a form of communication involving a cell surface receptor called Notch that is activated by a signal tethered to the surface of a neighboring cell. This physical link between cells has fascinating mechanical properties and is central to how the Notch receptor normally works and, if it becomes dysregulated, can directly lead to disease states. Our approach uses cutting edge Drosophila genetics combined with molecular biology techniques, microscopy, and computational modeling. Given how important the Notch receptor is, it is not surprising that when it goes wrong severe diseases can result in humans, including abnormalities in development and forms of cancer. To receive a signal from a neighboring cell, the Notch receptor is physically pulled like the rope in a cellular ‘tug-of-war’. The proposed work is to find out more about the pulling mechanism. Surprisingly little is known about the movement of Delta into the signal sending cell that generates the force and in my lab we have a tool kit of genetic and Drosophila based tools that will allow us to investigate this. Specifically, we aim to use electron microscopy to observe the path by which Delta moves into the signal sending cell.

Physics of living systems is a subfield of physics seeking to understand biological cell behaviors from a physical science perspective. Forces experienced by cells from neighboring cells and the mechanical environment of cells determine behaviors such as growth, division, and movement. This project will focus on collective cell behaviors that arise when two or more cells maintain physical contact and act together. When a group of cells maintain physical contact and move together, they undergo collective cell migration. Even though the biochemical factors (genetics, proteins etc) that support collective cell migration are comparatively well studied, how physical forces contribute to collective cell migration is not well known. Collective cell migration occurs during important physiological processes such as tumor invasion, cancer metastasis, organ formation during embryo development, and wound healing. Hence, a physics-based understanding of collective cell migration could pave the way towards the development of novel ways of treating diseases such as cancer and birth defects. The current project will use physics-based computational models to examine important mechanical cues that impact collective cell migration. During the course of this summer project, we will investigate how the variability of cell-cell adhesion determines the motility of cell collectives in two and three spatial dimensions.

Lithium is the mood stabilizer widely used to treat bipolar disorder. It also is currently considered as a therapeutic agent for alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, schizoaffective disorders, AIDS, and cluster headaches. Unfortunately, in up to 40% of patients lithium treatment causes a disorder known as nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI). NDI is characterized by the impaired ability of the kidney to concentrate urine in response to the antidiuretic hormone, arginine-vasopressin (AVP), resulting in excessive urination further exposing the patient to an increased risk of dehydration-induced lithium toxicity. Molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of lithium on the kidney are not fully understood.
We hypothesize that excessive shear stress imposed on collecting duct (CD) cells by high flow of tubular fluid during lithium-induced NDI leads to a P2Y2-dependent disruption of intracellular calcium balance amplifying the detrimental effects of lithium toxicity on water transport. This project will take advantage of the collecting duct cell culture, to separate the effects of lithium toxicity and flow-induced mechanical stress. This project is perfectly positioned to identify specific effects of flow-induced shear stress and lithium toxicity on CD cells during lithium-induced NDI advancing our understanding of the pathophysiology of this disorder in the kidney.

Students will be engaged in two projects, exposing them to international and national public health issues. 1) The 2021 International Health Policy (IHP) survey of 11 high-income nations is focused on the healthcare experiences of senior citizens. The survey's findings show that US older adults faced negative economic consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic. US senior citizens have higher out-of-pocket health costs and are more likely to forgo treatment due to cost-related reasons when compared with their counterparts from other high-income nations. Furthermore, older adults from all the surveyed countries experienced delays in getting treatment and gaps in treatment planning. We will conduct a secondary analysis of the 2021 survey. The research will contribute to the growing literature on post-pandemic assessment of healthcare systems with a focus on vulnerable populations. 2. Healthcare workforce burnout is a public health concern that is exacerbated during the pandemic. Nearly 54% of nurses and physicians and approximately 60% of medical students and residents suffered from burnout. Recently, US Surgeon General published a framework for workplace well-being emphasizing five core domains: protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work, and opportunity for growth. Using this framework, our project aims to assess community preceptors’ well-being by administering a short questionnaire.

The protein CD73 is a nucleotide-metabolizing enzyme found on the surface of cells and in the extracellular environment. This enzyme is responsible for the production of extracellular adenosine from its precursor adenosine monophosphate (AMP) after a series of dephosphorylation steps that hydrolyze extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP). CD73 is crucial to cells, as it is responsible for shaping the extracellular environment for adenosine signaling. During inflammatory processes, CD73 and other nucleotide-metabolizing enzymes tightly regulate the concentration of adenosine, ATP, and other danger signals, which are released in damaged tissue or exposed on stressed cells. The main goal of this research project is to examine the role of CD73 in the inflammatory phenotype of gingival stromal fibroblasts. Specifically, the study will use two groups of mice, wild-type C57Bl6 (WT) and CD73-deficient mice, which lack the functional activity of the CD73 enzyme. The student will work with previously primary isolated murine gingival cells. Cells will be stimulated in vitro with a typical inflammatory cytokine (Interleukin-1β) for different time points and specific fibroblast markers will be measured and compared in WT versus CD73-deficient cells. We will assess the mRNA expression of inflammatory markers and will also investigate co-expression of fibroblast markers.

Natural products (NPs), chemical compounds produced by microorganisms and plants, are a very important source of drugs and drug leads. Infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and other ailments have been treated by these molecules throughout human history. Infections by antibiotic-resistant pathogens are increasing globally and are anticipated as one of the greatest threats to human health in the future. It is important to develop new strategies to tackle resistance to peptide NPs. Enzymes called proteases or peptidases are often used to develop resistance in peptide NPs which contain amino acid linkages. These enzymes recognize the target by the structure of the molecules, and there are a few common ways to modify the structure. However, for that reason, many other microorganisms possess or develop resistance to NPs that contain these common modifications. To characterize those enzymes, my lab will test the activity of the purified enzymes in vitro. We will focus on characterizing one of the enzymes, B2HB synthase. We have obtained preliminary data on the wild-type enzyme and will construct mutants to understand the reaction catalyzed by the enzyme. This work will shed light on the development of a new enzymatic tool to modify highly complex peptide NPs, which are more biologically stable.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, and COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this virus is responsible for over 651 million confirmed cases and about 6.6 million mortalities worldwide.
The immune system response is made of a combination of non-specific and specific reactions to pathogens that allow for effective detection and clearance/elimination of the pathogen from all regions in the body. In times when the immune response fails to control the pathogen on its own, human interventions can be used to aid the immune system through preventive or therapeutic vaccines, or through drug therapies. The viral kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 within an individual is poorly understood, and there are limited studies on within-host SARS-CoV-2 viral dynamics. Moreover, there are no studies that combine the immune response with antiviral therapy for the within-host dynamics of SARS-CoV-2.
The objectives of this proposal are to formulate and analyze a novel mathematical model for the within-host dynamics of SARS-CoV-2, which incorporates immune response and antiviral therapy.
Over the summer, the students will research Alice and a variety of theatre and performance theories and methods and use them to write detailed, theoretically informed exercises/assignments that will then be used by a larger group of AU students to generate the Theatre AUG fall production. The work we do will require the students to read several versions of Carroll’s Alice and collect other texts that have analyzed, retold, celebrated, and questioned Carroll’s story and his history. We will collect, share, read/view, sift through, analyze, and summarize these materials. Then we will discuss basic theatre and performance theories and methodologies and partner them with some of the collected materials to see what might work together. We will discuss and explore their relationships and how we might stage scenes from Alice. After we have ideas we like, we will write detailed and theoretically and methodologically sound assignments and exercises that can be used to help the group generate performance material in the fall. 
In this work, we study a vaccine breakthrough infection and a rebound infection cases in a certain population by developing an innovative multi-strain susceptible-vaccinated-exposed-asymptomatic-symptomatic-recovered epidemic model to explain how such transmission occur. The population is assumed to be completely susceptible to n-different variants of the disease, and those who are vaccinated and recovered from a specific strain of the disease are immune to present strain and its predecessors, but can still be infected by newer emerging strains. The visualization of the outbreak transmission is enabled using a block diagram environment in Simulink. The model is used to estimate epidemiological parameters, namely, the latent period, the transmission rates, vaccination rates, recovery rates of the variants and lineages of the COVID-19 virus for the United States and for each of the ten U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regions. The reproduction number of the disease for each of the ten regions is calculated and reported. This is used to determine if the population is in an endemic state with one or more particular strains or if it is free of certain variants of the disease.
For current AU students, this research proposal would provide immediate access to equipment, technology, and community to design and build intensive research projects through the lens of virtual reality. Art and Design students, staff, and faculty will research the intersection between digital fabrication methodologies and the traditional art-making material clay. The Oculus Quest 2 headsets and free software, Adobe medium, and Gravity Sketch provide an immersive space to design imagined objects and ideas during the interactive experiences in the virtual world. In addition, two desktop 3D printers housed within the Department of Art and Design will translate VR-generated conceptions into tangible forms. An Ender3 3D plastic filament printer made by Creality and a student-built clay printing 3D printer that uses Arduino Firmware and RepRap Arduino Mega Pololu Shield (RAMPS) will provide the prototyping. We are interested in clay experimentation, bridging new digital technologies, artistic materials, and sensibilities. Closing the gap between virtual education and ideation with actual object fabrication will expand design approaches and art strategies for faculty and students registered in Art and Design Ceramics courses that recognizes education as the foundation for career readiness and a means to drive future innovation.
Breast cancer (BC) ranks first in incidence and second in cancer mortality in women, with an estimated 290,560 new cases in 2022 and 43,780 deaths. The drug discovery process for diseases with complexity like BC has been facing significant challenges since the traditional “one molecule, one target” drug discovery paradigm is not adequately effective. Molecular hybridization (conjugation of two or more anticancer molecules via a chemical bond, MH) is a powerful strategy in drug discovery. This approach could contribute to the design of multifunctional BC drug candidates and might help overcome the problems associated with current drugs.
Our central goal is to develop and test new molecules with activities significantly more potent than current breast cancer drugs. We expect these compounds to be significantly more potent in vitro and significantly higher oral bioavailability in vivo. If we succeed in these two aspects, our long-term goal is to test such compounds through clinical studies to prevent and treat BC. The proposed studies will produce a library of structurally optimized novel chemical entities and determine their efficacy for BC in vitro and orally in vivo on mouse models of BC. This project blends the expertise of Medicinal Chemistry, biochemistry, and biology and their roles in early drug discovery.
The goal of the project is to understand better how science and education researchers can better serve students and teachers in the classroom through inquiry activities and curricula while being inclusive and culturally responsive. This project will look at how undergraduate students, 6-8th grade students, and their teachers view scientific inquiry and the nature of science.  Summer Scholars students will assist in analyzing data from the Inclusive Biologist Exploring Active Research with Students (iBEARS) program. iBEARS is a novel course in higher education that utilizes undergraduate students to support scientific inquiry (the process of science) by developing scientific inquiry practices for K-12 students through virtual mentorship. Qualitative and quantitative methodology will be used, as researchers will analyze Likert scale surveys, watch and analyze classroom observations, and analyze reflections and interviews/focus groups.
This project will examine a viable tool to investigate the electronic and optical interactions that are harbored by allotropic structures of carbon, oligomers. Spectroscopy is a powerful experimental technique which utilizes the interaction of electromagnetic radiation (e.g., microwave, visible light, x-ray, lasers) with electronic matter to probe the chemical and physical interactions of molecules. Knowledge on molecular interactions (charge and magnetic), a crucial ingredient to manipulating information for storage and retrieval (think solid-state devices) can be probed using lasers. In this context, Raman spectroscopy (non-energy conserving light scattering spectroscopy) is a powerful experimental method which can detect vibrational modes of molecules. The various vibrational modes of a molecule offer pathways on how information can be stored, transmitted, and retrieved. Since the magnitude of the Raman intensity correlates with polarizability (ability of the electronic charge to produce deformation) of the electronic charge cloud in a molecule, it provides us a way to gather information on the charge and magnetic interactions of oligomers, influenced by the vibrational modes.
With Roe v. Wade being overturned and over 133 anti-LGBTQ bills having been introduced this year, including 111 bills that target the transgender community questions regarding bodily autonomy in healthcare have become increasingly more apparent and important, especially among health care professionals. Much of this legislation has been passed in traditionally conservative leaning states (e.g., Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, etc.), which rank among the lowest in access to quality healthcare. The connection between overall healthcare ranking and limitations in body autonomy offer a unique area to understand how healthcare providers in these areas are communicating with patients who are most effected by both government legislation and limited access to quality healthcare (i.e., women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community). This project will take a narrative and feminist approach to understand how healthcare providers in traditionally conservative states are talking about bodily autonomy and healthcare with their patients and colleagues. We will do so by conducting semi-structured interviews with healthcare providers regarding their communication strategies and approaches. Following principles and practices for interviewing, we will interview and transcribe simultaneously and write analytic memos that describe the interview, pull out interesting quotes, and emphasize themes and key ideas from each interview which can be used later in analysis.
In this project, we study and develop mathematical models and data analytics tools for the prediction and prevention of crimes. Such models and tools play an important role in assisting the criminologists, law enforcements and policy makers to analyze the distribution and trend of crimes with improved accuracy and efficiency, and to make decisions for crime prevention. We will study and improve the existing statistical crime models and then combine the model with the publicly available dataset, i.e., the San Francisco police department incident reports, to test the performance of various models. We aim to understand the nature and distribution of the crimes in recent years, and identify an appropriate setup of parameters for our proposed model that can lead to the best performance. 

Students making team flags
2019_ Dr. Jennifer Bradford with students Jordan and Apurva (Biology)
2019_ Dr. Jennifer Trunzo with Brandon Z. (Anthropology)
2019_ Dr. Eric Numfor and students Farron and Kyle (Mathematics)
2019 presenters_  Anabelle and Katherine
2019 Summer Scholar Symposium
Dr. Graeme Connolly and student group (Kinesiology) 2016