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2018 SRE Students and Faculty.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Nicholas Zoller.2018 SRE Students and Faculty.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Nicholas Zoller.

The 2018 SNU Summer Research Experience (SRE) will take place from May 16 to June 26, 2018.  The SRE is sponsored jointly by SNU and the Oklahoma NASA Space Grant Consortium (OSGC).  You can read more about OSGC activities here

Current SNU students may apply for the 2018 SRE if they have completed their first one or two years of study in an academic major offered through the SNU Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science/Network Engineering, Mathematics, or Physics Department.

Project Descriptions

A description of the 2018 research topics in each area is given below along with the respective research adviser(s).

Biology – Dr. Jeff Griffitts
Project Title: Fatty acyl species in control mice; GC/MS Analysis

My research focuses on elucidating the composition of fatty acyl species in the livers of mice to try and identify novel species involved in liver cancer development. In the past, we have taken extracts from transgenic mouse models of hepatocarcinogenesis. To combine with prior work, this year we will be conducting lipid analyses on the livers of control mice at varying time points of age.

This research project will allow the undergraduate student to learn:

  • how to perform lipid extractions
  • 1D TLC separation of phospholipids
  • the use and application of gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

*There may be an alternative project developed should the opportunity arise. 

Biology – Dr. David Hoekman
Project Title: Insect studies at QERC

Two students will work with Dr. Hoekman on this research project at SNU’s field station, the Quetzal Education Research Center (QERC) in Costa Rica. We will be investigating arthropod communities in three different habitats: the forest floor, stream benthos and rain-filled bromeliad leaf axils. Studies are ongoing in each of these systems and I have specific aims for each habitat but there is quite a bit of flexibility in terms of ecological questions to pursue. More details are available upon request. Preference will be given to applicants who have had an insect class, which may be taken at Au Sable between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the summer research program.

Biology – Dr. Caio França
Project Title: Mosquito Sampling and Pathogen Surveillance in the Metro Area

Mosquito vector-borne diseases are of great importance for public health worldwide as well as in the US as they affect humans and animals alike. Viral diseases like West Nile, Zika, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitos. The goal of this project is to survey the mosquito population in the OKC metro area and to identify the pathogens that they are possibly carrying. We will be sampling mosquitos from diverse locations using light traps for subsequent sorting and species identification. Molecular biology techniques will be employed in order to extract viral genomic content from mosquitos and create cDNA libraries for virus identification.

Chemistry – Dr. Shawna York
Project Title: Instrumental Hardware/Software Interface

Much of the modern chemistry laboratory involves instrumentation and automated data collection. While beneficial in freeing up more time for data analysis, this can lead to an unfortunate “black box” mentality on the part of the student (or researcher). This project will explore the hardware/software interface; instrument design, setup, and calibration; programming automated data acquisition and control; and analog-to-digital conversion.

Probability – Dr. Nathan Drake
Project Title: Extensions of the Monty Hall Problem

The Monty Hall problem is a well-studied problem in mathematics and decision making. The problem is often described based on the game show Let's Make a Deal whose original host was Monty Hall. Suppose that there are three doors. Behind one door is a prize (say a car) and the other two doors do not have a prize (say instead they have goats). The contestant selects a door. Then the host opens an unselected door that does not contain the prize and gives the contestant an opportunity to switch doors. If the contestant wants to maximize the chances of winning the prize, should they stay, switch, or does it matter?

In this project, we will study probability by considering extensions to the Monty Hall problem. In particular, we will consider other probability distributions with which the host could choose to open the door. For example, how does the contestant's strategy change if the host always selects the first unselected door that does not have the prize? How does the contestant's strategy change if the host selects a particular unselected door that does not have the prize in a non-uniform method? We will also look at well-studied extensions including what happens when the number of doors increases and when the number of prizes increases so that we can see how those interact with the host's probability distribution.

STEM Education – Prof. Jody Bowie
Project Title: Coding to Learn for Elementary Students

While it could certainly be a benefit, having a generation of students with the ability to write code is not the goal of the recent push in STEM education in which students learn to code (see Fostering skills such as mathematical reasoning, problem solving, and procedural fluency, while also developing attitudes of resilience, perseverance, and tenacity, are all goals of using computer programming as a means for learning. These skills, processes, and attitudes happen to converge in the ISTE Standards for Students and the Oklahoma Academic Standards, for both Science and Mathematics.

In this project, we will continue to adapt existing and new curricula, e.g. CS-First and Creative Computing, to develop skills from OAS for Science, OAS for Mathematics, and ISTE Standards for Students and align the activities to those standards. These curricula will be used in subsequent years for the continued development of computer science clubs at area elementary schools, including the SNU School for Children.

Summer Support and Stipend

Participants are eligible for free room in a SNU dorm facility. Each participant will receive $3,000 as a stipend for research. Payments will be made throughout the summer program; a final installment will be paid at the conclusion of the program. Participants are expected to commit to 40 hours of research a week as scheduled by the research adviser, generally from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. If participants anticipate being gone for any reason during the program, they should make alternate arrangements with their research adviser for making up research. Participants are required to present the results of their research at a symposium at the end of the summer program. Additionally, participants must present the results of their research in two different settings during the 2018-2019 academic year:

  • ** During the weekly Math and Science research seminar
  • ** At an off-campus academic conference or at the annual SNU Undergraduate Research Symposium (in March or April 2019)

Application Requirements

Applicants must be SNU freshman or sophomore students who have declared an academic major offered through the SNU Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science/Network Engineering, Mathematics, or Physics Department.  Applicants should expect to complete their first one or two years of study in their major by the end of the Spring 2018 semester.  U.S. citizenship is required.  Participants are expected to be available Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, for the entire six-week period (from May 16 to June 26). If applicants anticipate being absent for any reason, they should report the duration and reason for absence on the application form.

Each applicant must submit three recommendations – two of which must come from SNU professors. Applicants should email the recommenders and provide the URL (see below) for the online recommendation form. If a paper recommendation (rather than the online form) is needed, please contact Dr. Nicholas Zoller at


Applicants must complete their online application forms and have all required documentation (recommendations, etc.) completed by Friday, March 9, 2018.  If the applicant must submit paper copies of application materials, then they should be delivered to Dr. Nicholas Zoller in Beaver Science 202D. Successful applicants will be notified by Friday, March 16 of their acceptance into the program. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Nicholas Zoller at  You are also encouraged to discuss your interests with any of the research advisers listed above.


  • Application: Log in to your SNU Gmail account and apply online at this application form.
  • Recommendations: Go to the recommendation form, and copy and paste the URL address into your e-mail requests to your recommenders.  Recommenders must submit their recommendations by the application deadline of March 3 in order for your application to be considered complete.
Our Nazarene Heritage
Founded in 1899, Southern Nazarene University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university - a service of the Church of the Nazarene. Located on a 40-acre campus just west of Oklahoma City, SNU grew out of several small colleges committed to training people for lives of service to God, leadership, and reconciliation toward their neighbors and within the global community. More than 32,000 alumni work and serve throughout the United States and the world. Read About Our Heritage

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