Summer Immersion Sites

Summer 2022 Internship Sites have been awarded! Congratulations to Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, Fairmont State University, High Rocks, University of Charleston, West Virginia University, and WVU- Tech. In addition, Green Bank Observatory will be hosting a site through separate funding. Find out more about each site, the research being offered, and the internship dates for 2022 below. Unless otherwise stated, the internships are open to all students across the state of West Virginia who are majoring in a STEM field, particularly first generation or other under-represented students entering their freshman year of college and to upper class students who will serve as mentors.

Are you a high school senior who would like to do summer research?

Are you a college student who would like to mentor incoming participants?

Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
July 18 – 29, 2022

Open to students with fewer than 30 credit hours Availability: 10 students and 2 mentors

Applied Research: Interns will be working on an applied research project with ROCKWOOL, a local industry partner, regarding process efficiency. The company is interested in knowing if the machines in their “cold end” (after the product is made) are running at capacity. Nine machines, consisting of baggers, stackers and conveyors have been identified for study. Under the supervision of faculty, mentors, and ROCKWOOL staff, interns will be collecting and coding data, analyzing the results, and preparing a report and presentation to give to ROCKWOOL executives on the final day of the camp. Faculty Advisors: Kim Graves and Janet Branch

Fairmont State University
July 10 – 23, 2022

Open to rising freshmen.
Availability: 12 students and 3 mentors

Research Area 1 – Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy: If students select atomic absorption as their focus, they will be able to choose from several options, depending on their interests, that will include both Flame and Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (FAAS and GFAAS) to test samples. The first option will involve testing paint samples for lead – students will be provided a protocol and various samples. The second option will be to determine if various water filters remove lead as claimed by the manufacturer. For example, Brita Filters claim the removal of 99.5 % of lead at pH 6.5 with an influent of 150 ppb. The third option would be to determine the amount of iron, copper, and lead in natural water samples they would collect from Lamberts Run. Faculty advisor: Matt Scanlon

Research Area 2 – Stream Health: In this project, students will gain experience in assessing the stream health of Lambert’s Run and other streams in the area in collaboration with the Guardians of the West Fork River Watershed group. Students will collect and process samples above, at, and below a mine drainage site and perform numerous chemical tests (pH, turbidity, microbes) in the field and in the lab. The collected information will be used to create a report assessing the stream health. Faculty Advisor: Mark Flood

Research Area 3 – Accuracy and precision of 3D scanners when digitizing human skeletal remains: Students will become familiar with handheld 3D scanners and how to scan, troubleshoot, and edit 3D files using different platforms. Students will determine the accuracy or precision of three different handheld 3D scanning devices to help determine if 3D scanners allow for accurate analysis of human skeletal remains. Students will use an Xbox Kinect V1, Xbox Kinect V2, and an Artec Eva handheld 3D light scanner to scan multiple sets of teaching skeletons. Students will learn basic osteometric and anthroposcopic analysis techniques, along with a basic differential diagnosis of skeletal pathology. Finally, students will apply osteological analysis techniques to the digitized remains. Faculty Advisor: Kristy Henson 

Green Bank Observatory
August 1-14

Open to rising freshmen and sophomores.
Availability: 10 students and 2 mentors

Research Area: The Green Bank Observatory is building an innovative receiver that will dramatically improve the Green Bank Telescope for low frequency research. A key problem to be solved in order to make this new technology work is Radio Frequency Interference, or RFI. The Green Bank Telescope is the world’s largest fully steerable dish, and as such is incredibly sensitive; to signals from the Universe and to unwanted signals from earth-based technologies. Interns will be directly contributing to the development of this new cutting edge receiver, by characterizing radio frequency interference for future machine learning algorithms. Faculty advisors: Dr Ryan Lynch and Sue Ann Heatherly

High Rocks
July 15-30, 2022

Open to female students only
Availability: 10 students and 2 mentors

Research Area:

Our forest health research project will take place on the 200-acre High Rocks wilderness campground. First2 students will participate in research which will contribute to the High Rocks’ ongoing partnership with WVU. WVU forest pathologists have found both oak wilt and Diplodia canker diseases on northern red oaks (Quercus rubra) on the High Rocks property. Students will sample similar trees on the property, culture and identify the resulting microorganisms, survey the local insect community and evaluate the biotic and abiotic factors that may contribute to tree health decline. Study trees will also be cored and their long-term health evaluated using dendrochronology.  

While our area of research is clear, the High Rocks knows the value of student voice and choice, and students will be involved in determining research questions and study design. The broad range of factors that impact tree health will allow our instructors to help students explore many different areas of research. For a more authentic and holistic research experience, students will learn to communicate their findings professionally via research posters showcasing their work. 

Faculty Advisor: Amy Metheny, West Virginia University

Marshall University
July 17 – July 29, 2022

Availability: 10 students and 3 mentors

Research Areas: Marshall tentatively anticipates project availability in at least three areas, others may be added. Chemistry (Nanotechnology applications of DNA), Biology (Microbiology or Neuroscience) and Physics (Physical processes in water nano-filtration). Project 1) Nanotechnology applications of DNA (contact for details).  We usually blend students into the research effort currently at the time of the project, so the precise activities are difficult to define. However broadly the laboratory generates artificial structures using a technique called DNA Origami, folding synthetic DNA to produce structures which support molecules capable of sensing. In this context sensing involves the system interacting with a species of interest, usually a specific sequence of DNA, which is followed by the system “switching” to produce a signal visible using state of the art optical microscopy. Project 2) Neuroscience (contact for details). In the Spitzer lab, we investigate the interactions between silver nanoparticles (contaminants of emerging concern)  and physiological mechanisms in neural cells. Students in the Spitzer lab have the opportunity to learn skills in cell culture and molecular techniques, histology, fluorescent imaging, and behavioral assays. Project 3)  Physics and water purification  (contact  for details). During the 2-week First2 Research Experience students will gain hands-on experience with water purification using custom equipment to collect samples in the lab and perform data analysis using spreadsheet techniques. Students over the course of 2 weeks will see how commercially available polycarbonate filtration membranes with 100 nanometer diameter holes can be functionalized with azo dye molecules to successfully remove the negatively charged azo dye components from water. Faculty Advisors: Drs. Mike Norton, Nadja Spitzer, Wendy Trzyna and Sean McBride

University of Charleston
July 17-29, 2022

Availability: 6 students and 2 mentors.

Research Area: It has been shown that natural wetlands can be resilient to metal rich acidic waters over time but there is scarcity of information on Acid Mine Drainage exposed natural riparian areas in direct comparison to water and sediment. Furthermore, the use of zooplankton or microbial community function (measured via Biolog EcoPlates and Metabarcoding analyses) as indicators in these systems is understudied. Interns will look at the effects of long-term acid mine drainage input in riparian areas on these biological indicators. Information regarding the aquatic and terrestrial community’s functional capabilities and trophic structures may aid in the design of remediation systems such as constructed wetlands used to mitigate the effect of acid mine drainage. Faculty Advisors: Drs Aida Jimenez, Heather Arnett, Karen Kail

West Virginia University
July 17-29, 2022

Availability: 12 students and 4 mentors.

Research Areas: students may be involved in one of the following research projects: Project 1 – Determining the Modulation Transfer Function of Smartphone Cameras (Dr. Jeremy Dawson, Electrical Engineering & Biometrics). Smartphone technology provides a multi-purpose sensor that can be used to collect biometric samples ranging from voice recordings to fingerprint and face images. Interns will (i) gain knowledge about biometric sensor hardware setup and testing; (ii) gain an understanding of basic image characteristics, such as contrast and greyscale; (iii) gain awareness of biometrics standards and their importance; and (iv) apply these standards for sensor assessment. Project 2 – Fish in a Dish (Dr. Sadie Bergeron, Biology). In this project, interns will be exposed to fields related to biomedicine and developmental biology through experiments using live zebrafish embryos – a vertebrate model organism that provides the opportunity for hands-on research in real-time. Interns will gain (i) knowledge of zebrafish biology and how they are used in research; (ii) an understanding of the scientific method (e.g., hypothesis generation, study/collect data, analyze results, develop conclusions and replicate); (iii) laboratory skills such as pipetting, using microscopes and calculating and preparing dilutions; and (iv) certification to work with live vertebrate animals in research settings. Project 3 – Mapping Appalachia (Dr. Brent McCusker, Geography/Geology). Interns will map rural Appalachian communities’ most pressing social-economic development needs. Interns will be trained in web-based mapping software and will identify key local, socio-economic development issues that are not currently represented. Interns will (i) learn to use basic mapping software; (ii) identify places that are not currently fully mapped; (iii) add critical local context to their maps; and (iv) develop data analysis and manipulations skills with visualization in a culturally relevant context. All outputs will be uploaded to a free, publicly accessible database, OpenStreetMap. Project 4 – Measuring the speed of light (Dr Edward Flagg, Physics and Astronomy. The project is to measure the speed of light using relatively simple tools similar to those used by Jean Léon Foucault in the nineteenth century. The students will first complete a set of hands-on experimental optics tutorials designed to rapidly teach research assistants the skills necessary to work in an optics lab. Then, in collaboration with the adviser and each other, the students will design, build, and perform the experiment. Site leaders: Dr. Cinthia Pacheco and Dr. Amy Hessl

West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech)
July 24 – August 5, 2022

Availability: 10 students and 3 mentors

Projects targeted primarily for students pursuing CS&IS degrees will engage the students in cybersecurity. Students will learn cybersecurity fundamentals and work on an active research problem in security policy mining. In this program, students will first learn the basics of computer security and python programming, and then they will tackle a research problem in access control policies. In this research project, students will do a literature review on the related topic, prepare data and implement algorithms to solve the introduced problem.

Projects targeted primarily for students pursuing ECE degrees will engage students in investigating the effects of tilt angle and shading on Solar Panels. Students will work with commercial size solar panels and illumination sources at WVU Tech’s Power Laboratory and conduct research on observing and proving the effectiveness of the tilt angle and shading on Solar Panels. Students may also investigate the effects of load changes on the system voltage stability: Students will work with generators and loads at WVU Tech’s Power Laboratory and build circuits to conduct research on the effects of load changes on the system voltage stability. Faculty Advisors: Drs. Kenan Hatipoglu, Cao Thang Bui, and Sanish Rai