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Virginia Military Institute
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SURI Awards Announced

Institute Report, March 2012

Thirty-three proposals were funded through the 2012 Summer Undergraduate Research Institute for projects to be carried out this summer, including two answering the call for service-oriented projects.

Michelle McCusker ’14 will work with Col. Christina McDonald, director of the Institute Writing Program, on her project, “Rhetoric, Community, Advocacy: Making the Case for a System of Sustainable Health Care in Rockbridge County.” And John McDonald ’15 will work with Lt. Col. Chuck Newhouse, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Maj. Jenny deHart, sustainability coordinator, on “Materials Testing of Recycled Plastics in Concrete.”

“I’m really excited about it,” said Lt. Col. Keith Kline, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. “She [deHart] came here with this great vision for this sort of living laboratory where cadets could do research.

“It’s not like there have never been service-oriented projects before,” added Kline, “but this was something that we tried to emphasize this time around because we believe that it’s consistent with the citizen-soldier aspect of VMI’s mission. We’re trying to encourage undergraduate research projects that positively impact society.”

Another new initiative of the Center this spring was an undergraduate research “speed exploration” event, which prompted Molly Hastings ’13 to submit a proposal, something she had not been planning to do.

“The result was a highly rated SURI proposal,” said Kline. Hastings will work with Maj. Scott Frein, assistant professor of psychology, on her project, “Examining the Effects of a Single Meditation Training Session on Cognitive Processes and Psychological Well-Being.”

Other cadet-mentor pairings are as follows: Biology – Peter Van Steyn and Jonathan Vignali, Col. James Turner; Molly Western and Micah Hosler, Maj. Paul Moosman; Garrett Parsons, Maj. Anne Alerding; Cameron Sayer, Col. Wade Bell; Daniel Adler, Maj. Emily Lilly; Richard Scruggs, Maj. Pieter deHart.

Civil and environmental engineering – John Partin, Maj. Tim Moore and Maj. Wakeel Idewu; Frederick Vilushis, Maj. Matthew Swenty; Thomas McConnell, Col. Gary Rogers; Peter Kniesler, Col. Grigg Mullen.

Chemistry – Hayden Hodges, Col. Daren Timmons.

Economics and business – Leah Schubel, Lt. Col. Samuel Allen; Tsung-Han Chu, Col. Atin Basuchoudhary.

History – Jeremiah Deborde, Col. Kenneth Koons; Michael Singleton, Col. Turk McCleskey; John Bolen and William Brubaker, Lt. Col. Timothy Dowling; Sean McCauley, Col. Geoff Jensen.

International studies – Thomas Blevins, Col. James Hentz.

Math and computer science – William Lucas, Maj. John David.

Mechanical engineering – Alexander Sharp, Shun-Te Shih, and Kaan Erermis, Col. Joseph Blandino; James Avery IV and David Rochow, Col. Timothy Hodges; Antonio Wood, Col. Jay Sullivan.

Psychology – Phillip Kroke, Maj. Glenn Sullivan.

Physics and astronomy – Philip Wulfken, Lt. Col. Gregory Topasna.