Summer Undergraduate Pipeline nurtures student interest in original research. Thirty-one presented findings in 2015, increasing to 110 in 2016.

The Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success program has implemented several initiatives across campus, including the Summer Undergraduate Pipeline, to support student success. The Graduate School is committed to diversifying Carolina’s graduate student population.

The Graduate School, in 2015, created a “pipeline” — the Summer Undergraduate Pipeline program, to be exact – that supports UNC-Chapel Hill summer research program efforts geared to undergraduates.

“Here’s something we all know but it bears repeating,” says Graduate School Dean Steve Matson. “At one time, graduate students were all undergraduates who were considering a graduate degree.”

Through the Summer Undergraduate Pipeline, The Graduate School works directly with summer undergraduate research programs to create connections and provide tools that help undergraduates make the transition to graduate careers. Students from UNC-Chapel Hill and across the country — and from a multitude of academic disciplines — participate.

Through a research symposium toward the end of their summer experience, these undergraduates have the opportunity to present their original research findings to faculty and other members of the University community. Thirty-one undergraduates participated in the Summer Undergraduate Pipeline Research Symposium in its first year. The number of research symposium participants grew to 110 in 2016.

“Carolina faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows provide essential mentorship to undergraduates who are interested in research, and summer programs are great examples of this outreach,” says Matson.

“Undergraduates must have opportunities to pursue discoveries of their own and present their ideas. The undergraduates who participated in our research symposium are addressing compelling challenges in our world. Their work ethic and results are remarkable.”

Here are some examples of research presented at the 2016 Summer Undergraduate Pipeline Research Symposium:

Anna Caudill, UNC-Chapel Hill (first place, oral presentation competition)

Anna Caudill, UNC-Chapel Hill

Anna Caudill, UNC-Chapel Hill

From her research abstract: “Since 1990, North Carolina’s Latino population has increased more than tenfold. Further, Latino men disproportionately experience HIV in the United States, comprising 23% of new diagnoses in 2013 while making up only 17% of the population. Consequently, an improved and critical understanding of Latinos’ HIV experiences is needed to reduce the diagnosis burden and improve linkage and adherence to care. Using data from the ongoing HIV intervention study, Enlaces Por La Salud (Enlaces)*, which began in 2013, this analysis examines how the involvement of a personal health navigator (PHN) impacts HIV-positive participants’ overall diagnosis and treatment experiences. … Preliminary results indicated that the presence of a PHN resulted in sustained adherence to care, and improved understanding of HIV, access to care, attitudes toward diagnosis, and ability to continue self-managed care.”

Caudill’s participation was through the Carolina Population Center Training Program.

UNC-Chapel Hill research mentors: Clare Barrington (associate professor, health behavior department), Julia Ward (doctoral student, epidemiology department) and George Hayward (doctoral student, sociology department)

Keith Rogers, Oakwood University (first place, poster presentation competition)

Keith Rogers

Keith Rogers, Oakwood University

From his research abstract: “As the use of e-cigarettes becomes more and more popular, information is needed to be able to quantify the effects that e-cigarette vapor has on the lung both acutely and chronically. Although there are now over 7,000 different e-cigarette flavors, very little is known about the chemical constituents of these flavors, nor how these constituents affect the lung. We hypothesized that the flavor constituent ethyl vanillin would elicit an altered Ca2+ response. … Our data demonstrated that ethyl vanillin altered Ca2+ signaling in a dose-dependent manner. The data also suggests that short, and potentially long term use of e-cigarette smoking can adversely affect lung epithelial Ca2+ homeostasis.”

Rogers’ participation was through the Summer of Learning and Research program.

UNC-Chapel Hill research mentors: Robert Tarran (associate professor, cell biology and physiology department) and Temperance Rowell (doctoral student, cell biology and physiology department)

Candace Foster, UNC-Chapel Hill

Candace Foster stands in front of her poster

Candace Foster, UNC-Chapel Hill

From her research abstract: “Flooding affects properties across American and is often so damaging that a federal disaster is declared. Once declared, funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) becomes available in order to mitigate flood damage. One of these flood damage mitigation strategies is a voluntary property acquisition, also referred to as a ‘buyout,’ in which funding is used to purchase and demolish or relocate properties in the floodplain. This study compiled information on property acquisition projects of 14 sites. … We have found that property acquisitions reduced future flood risks, as the land acquired from the buyout must remain undeveloped.”

Foster’s participation was through the Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Academia program.

UNC-Chapel Hill research mentor: David Salvesen (research associate, Institute for the Environment)

Bryan Guzmán, University of Puerto Rico at Cayay

Bryan Guzmán stands in front of his poster

Bryan Guzmán, University of Puerto Rico at Cayay

From his research abstract: “Analyzing proteins in their native state requires high concentrations of water in the analyte solution. The main problem of analyzing proteins in their native state is their high water content which is relatively non-volatile. This project focuses on enhancing the desolvation process for the protein ions produced by [electrospray ionization], which are then analyzed by [mass spectrometry].”

Guzmán’s participation was through the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity in Chemistry program.

UNC-Chapel Hill research mentors: Gary Glish (professor, chemistry department) and Matthew Campbell (doctoral student, chemistry department)

*Lisa Hightow-Weidman is the principal investigator for Enlaces, and the study is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.