Not bad for an undergrad.
Through the Undergraduate Summer Research Internship, chosen students earn income to conduct a creative or research project over the summer. If selected, the student will begin their proposed project alongside a faculty mentor to the tune of $1,800. After the submission of a final project, an extra $200 is earned.
Sharon Pound, manager of strategic research initiatives, said she believes the experience will strengthen any student's resume, regardless of their post-graduate plans. By facilitating field experience, encouraging faculty networking and building confidence, the internship offers the chance to kick-start a rewarding career.
"For many students, especially those in the science and engineering field who want to go on to grad school, increasingly it's a prerequisite to get accepted into graduate school," Pound said.
"If they choose not to go to grad school it can impact their career in a variety of ways," Pound continued. "Getting referrals, letters of recommendation, being able to prove their work ethic in an undergrad research capacity ... that then can be leverage for their job interviews."
Melissa Lee, a senior in College Scholars, studies integrative neuroscience, which combines the fields of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, psychology, philosophy and poetry.
Last fall, Lee had the opportunity to do research at the University of Zurich in Switzerland with Dr. Isabelle Mansuy at the Brain Research Institue. In mice, memory formation is correlated with the change in the amount of a certain mark in the brain, the formation of which is catalyzed by a specific protein. Lee spent her semester studying a microRNA that regulates this protein, investigating the process that allows mice to make memories.
"It was an incredible experience," Lee said, "because I was only taking one academic course at the same time, so I was able to spend 50-60 hours a week in the lab and really focus on my research.
"I learned a lot more about research in general. I learned about how hard research is to do well and how much work is required to get even the smallest of results. ... I learned that it's all really, really worth it."
Lee said she plans to continue her research and eventually earn her Ph.D. in neuroscience and continue doing research for the rest of her life.
Ryan Milstead, a junior in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, conducted research this summer in the entomology and plant pathology lab where he already worked. Milstead said his experience working in the lab aided his understanding of current course material. The research Milstead participated in will be published in the Journal of Horticultural Science.
"For one section of the (general genetics) course," Milstead said, "we were learning about different genetic lab techniques, and I had already learned and done nearly every one of them by hand in the lab in which I worked."
Research, however, is not limited to those in the sciences. Roselyn Hobbs, a sophomore in music performance studying viola, used her internship award to "attend the Montecito International Music Festival for three weeks in Montecito, California," where she studied chamber music and playing technique with "extraordinary professors from around the globe."
"I started playing at a young age and have always loved music," Hobbs said, "but it was not until I entered a collegiate environment that I began to see developing my skills as a violist as research."
Kegan Bryant, a junior in studio art, studied and interpreted tarot cards during his internship. He then used his interpretation to create his own deck.
This summer, Pound estimates approximately 75 students will be funded over a 10-week period. Research of all forms, she believes, provides valuable insight and yields "better citizens."
"One of the things that's very important to me is our citizens – our community. Our graduates from the University of Tennessee need to be able to read the news and understand what's real," Pound said. "Whether you're talking about a climate change discussion or evolution or any of those types of topics, to be able to talk about that intelligently. Our society needs that."
For more information and to learn how to apply, click here.