Research projects

Visiting students present summer research projects

By Madelyn Ostendorf

Rhajani Shepherd talks about her research into the development of hemp protein powder in the Curtiss Hall rotunda.

Nine students from across the country presented their research at the Cyclone Scholars Summer Research Experience and the George Washington Carver Internship Program Research Symposium July 29 on the campus of Iowa State University. The programs ran for eight weeks this summer, bringing college students from other institutions across Iowa State to work with faculty mentors on research in areas of student interest.

The participants in the programs were:

Cyclone Fellows Summer Research Experience

  • Aylin Galvan, Lamar University
  • Karrington Hall, University of the South and A&M College
  • Micah Kimbrough, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Mya Price, Michigan State University
  • Rhajani Shepherd, Michigan State University
  • Mackenzie Souchek, West Chester University

George Washington Carver Internship Program

  • Tyler Jackson, University of the South and A&M College
  • Mykah Mares, University of the South and A&M College
  • Ayden Mathias, Kirkwood Community College

The research projects represented all aspects of agriculture and life sciences, from exploring the effects of distillers grains on turkeys to developing the first steps of a hemp protein powder.

As a culmination of their participation in the programs, the students presented their research in the form of lightning talks, compressing their expertise into five-minute presentations with two minutes for questions from the audience. They were then available in the rotunda of Curtiss Hall, sharing their posters and answering questions about their research process and experience.

“I found out about the Cyclone Scholars Summer Research Experience because I did a research program at my school and was the only nutritionist to do it,” Galvan said. “They sent me a bunch of great research opportunities, and this was one of them. I was really excited; I’ve done some research before, but nothing at the level of food science, so I was glad to get more involved and gain more experience.

The George Washington Carver Internship Program has been accepting students for over 25 years. Its purpose is to improve the field of research by increasing the diversity and participation of students of color in STEM.

“This is my first time doing research, so it was definitely an eye opener,” Price said. “Finally, being able to see everything that happens in a research project has really helped me. Now, if I want to do research at my home university, I feel much better prepared.

Theressa Cooper, assistant dean for diversity at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been director of this program for eight years. Since the program began, it has expanded to include graduate students as well as undergraduate students. Students also have the opportunity to network with professors and alumni alongside their research.

Shannon Coleman, associate professor of food science and human nutrition, has led the Cyclone Scholars Summer Research Experience since its inception in 2017. The program merged with the George Washington Carver Internship Program this summer to create a community of learning. Since both programs usually participate in similar activities and events, it was decided to bring all students together for learning opportunities. The programs still operate separately, as students pursue research according to their areas of interest.

“Administratively, our program’s funding and structures work differently, so we’re two different programs,” Cooper said. “Interns apply for the specific program that offers lab opportunities that interest them. The CSSRE program offers research opportunities only in disciplines related to food science and human nutrition. The Carver program offers internship opportunities in CALS departments.

The CSSRE program is funded by a grant from the USDA and will continue to operate in its current form as long as the grant allows. In 2019, Coleman received a five-year grant to continue the program.

The George Washington Carver Internship Program is funded by a combination of administrative funding from the college and support from faculty mentors who apply for funding for summer interns as part of a larger grant proposal.

Applications for the 2023 edition Cyclone Fellows Summer Research Experience and George Washington Carver Internship Program will open in the fall.