Western Illinois University senior chemistry major Mattea Scanlan, of Platteville, WI, spent her summer conducting research through the prestigious Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Scanlan was one of three WIU students chosen for the honor, which is coordinated and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The highly competitive research positions give students between $4,500-$5,000 to use for travel expenses and room and board. The opportunity allows the students to work with top scientists in their field.
Scanlan spent her summer at Indiana University (IU) working with IU Professor Sara Skrabalak on the synthesis of branched nanocrystals. The nine-week program ended in July.
“I started with a standard procedure and then varied aspects of the procedure to see how it affected the shape, size and symmetry of the final product,” said Scanlan. “At the end of the summer, I presented my research findings in a poster at the IU Materials Symposium.”
Scanlan said she also had the opportunity to learn more about chemistry-related topics through weekly seminars.
“These included things like graduate school, scientific ethics, patents and research areas of other faculty at IU,” she said. “I was able to network with the other undergraduate REU students, IU graduate students and faculty I met.”
Scanlan said her experiences at Western helped her during her time in Indiana.
“At Western, I have performed chemistry research for multiple semesters, which helped me to understand how a lab worked when I got to IU,” she said. “That allowed me to build upon the lab skills I already knew. The chemistry classes I had taken gave me the background I needed to better understand the chemistry behind the research I was doing.
She added that without the support of faculty and friends at WIU, she wouldn’t have had the experience necessary to be accepted to the REU program.
For more information about the REU program, visit nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/.