COSAM News Articles 2023 July Summer program offers bold research experiences for future STEM leaders

Summer program offers bold research experiences for future STEM leaders

Published: 07/25/2023

By: Maria Gebhardt

At the closing ceremony for the 2023 Collaborative Approaches among Scientists and Engineers (CASE) Research Experience Undergraduate (REU) Research Symposium, high school students and undergraduate students in the up to 10-week program had an opportunity to present their research posters and share how this program has made a difference to them personally in front of their families and faculty. Students came from across the country from California to Pennsylvania to take advantage of this program.

“We have been helping students increase their experience in research over the past five years,” said Cordelia M. Brown, director of the Engineering Academic Excellence Program in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “For the first two years of this program, we were self-funded and for the past three years, we have been funded through the National Science Foundation.”

Over the five years, each class has learned about research directly on the Auburn University campus.

“During that time, we have touched the lives of approximately 100 students who have completed the program and gained hands-on experience in research that they would not have received otherwise,” Brown explained.

2023 CASE REU Closing Ceremony

The proudest moment for Brown is when a student applies to the program because they heard such great feedback about it.  

Patrick Antoine, a father of two CASE REU participants, shared his family’s experience with the program at the closing ceremony.

“My daughter came last year to this program, and I was so impressed with her research experience that I encouraged my son Daniel to apply for this year’s program,” Antoine said. “My wife and I drove from Atlanta to be at the event today to see him present his research.”  

Amanda Campbell from Spelman College did not know how a laboratory worked before this CASE REU.

“I really enjoyed learning about laboratory techniques this summer and how people in labs collaborate on research projects,” said Campbell. “As someone who wants to pursue a career in medicine, this program gave me an edge in research.”

The participants get a chance to work with the primary investigator in a lab as well as the other members of the lab such as graduate students.

“I have had four participants of this program over the last three years,” said Byron Farnum, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM). “This research program gives students support and mentoring from the entire team in the lab.”

His entire lab was there to support two of the participants that worked in his lab.

“I have watched these four students grow tremendously in my lab over each summer and sustain their interest in science,” Farnum added.  

The students learn about many different areas of science.

“I didn’t know anything about a lab before this program,” said Daniel Antoine. “Not only did I get to learn about what goes on in a lab, but I also learned from other participants about the variety of labs on the university’s campus and that anything is possible in my future.”

For Rishad Israil from Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) High School, it was his first time working in a laboratory setting.

“I really learned a lot and the program answered a lot of unknowns for me as a high school student,” Israil said. “I know that I would like to pursue research in the future now.”

This program gives them an exceptional summer experience and helps them develop critical thinking skills that they can apply as they continue their education as well as in their professional careers.  

“Students don’t realize what they can accomplish when they first start this REU,” said Kimberly Mulligan-Guy, assistant dean for inclusion, equity and diversity in COSAM. “This is the very first step in their research journey and they learn not only to conduct research, but to discuss it with accomplished faculty members at Auburn University.”

This program has helped these students know that they can achieve and excel in a laboratory environment. Eleven of these students even had the chance to present their posters at a national conference in New Orleans to conclude the summer program.

“I am truly excited to see where these students will be in the next three, four or five years. They all now have real-world experience working in laboratories of a R1 research institution and shown their potential to pursue rewarding careers in science,” added Mulligan-Guy.


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