Science & Math Summer Research


Faculty and students from the 2013 Summer Research Experience

The 2014 SNU Summer Research Experience (SRE) will take place from May 12 to June 20, 2014.  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 2014 SRE if they are freshman or sophomore students who have declared an academic major offered through the SNU Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science/Network Engineering, Mathematics, or Physics Department.

Project Descriptions

A description of the 2014 research topics in each area is given below along with the respective research adviser(s).

Biology/Chemistry – Dr. Caroline Bentley, Dr. Lisa Crow, and Dr. Shawna York

Project Title: Synthesis of oxide nanoparticles and characterization of their physical, chemical, and biological properties and interactions

Nanoscale materials (atomic/molecular structures on the order of 1-100 nm) have important applications in biomedicine because of their very different behavior in chemical and biological systems compared to both small molecules and bulk materials. In recent years, nanoparticles have been used in meat packaging and textiles to inhibit bacterial growth. In this project, metal oxide nanoparticles will be synthesized as model systems to study the effect of nanoparticle size and solution concentration of nanoparticles on bacterial growth inhibition. Some research questions to be considered are: How can particle size be controlled via synthesis conditions? What are economical and reliable methods to determine nanoparticle size? Is inhibition of bacterial growth more influenced by nanoparticle composition, concentration, or particle size?

Mathematics/Statistics – Dr. Nicholas Zoller
Project Title: A Study of SNU Chapel Attendance Data Using Data Mining

The growth of the Internet over the past 30 years has made it possible for organizations of all types to gather and store data. Businesses gather data about their customers. Governments gather data about their citizens. Non-profits gather data about their clients. Electronic data storage is cheap, so a very large amount of data has been stored. However, making intelligent use of the data can be difficult. Data mining attempts to provide a solution to this problem by using techniques from statistics.

In this project we will study chapel attendance data for students at Southern Nazarene University. We will begin by looking for answers to interesting questions. For example, does a typical female student complete her chapel requirements in less time than a typical male student? Do guest speakers from outside of SNU draw more students than chapels that feature SNU community members? Are students more likely to finish up their chapel requirements as early as possible or at the last minute? It is hoped that in seeking to answer these and other questions, we will discover unexpected patterns and trends.

Computer Science – Dr. Brent Eskridge
Project Title: Emergent Leadership in Biologically-Inspired Robot Swarms

The ability to use teams of robots in interesting, real-world tasks such as exploration, reconnaissance, and search and rescue depends on their ability to effectively cooperate in complex and dynamic environments. Observations from nature and personal experience show that leadership can have a significant positive impact in the coordination and performance of a team. In these systems, leaders are thought of more as "initiators of action" rather than "managers" that direct other individuals. In this project, we will continue previous work that has used the concept of "animal personalities" to promote self-assessment and self-assigned roles of leader and follower in simulated robot teams. Specifically, we will investigate different methods for using personality to affect decision-making and how existing leaders affect the emergence of subsequent leaders.

Summer Support and Stipend

Participants are eligible for free room in a SNU dorm facility. Each participant will receive $2,500 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 2014-2015 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 April 2015)

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 freshman or sophomore year in Spring 2014.  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 12 to June 20). 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 Sherri Stipes, administrative assistant for the Math and Science Division.


Applicants must complete their online application forms and have all required documentation (recommendations, etc.) completed by Thursday, March 13, 2014; note that this is the Thursday before spring break.  If the applicant must submit paper copies of application materials, then they should be given to Sherri Stipes (office location provided below). Successful applicants will be notified by Friday, April 4 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 Google Docs application form.
  • Recommendations: Recommendations can be completed in two ways:
    • If the person providing your recommendation is on campus and has an SNU Gmail account, go to the GoogleDocs recommendation form, and copy and paste the URL address into your email requests to professors, staff persons, etc.
    • If the person providing your recommendation is off campus, please click here to download the recommendation form (pdf), and email the form to that person.

Sherri Stipes can be found in the Chemistry Office (Science 203)  MWF mornings and TTh afternoons and is in the Biology Office (Science 315) on MWF afternoons and TTh mornings. You may contact her by e-mail at