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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

UNCP celebrates a summer of student research

A team of UNC Pembroke students spent their summer researching the production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil.

Biology professor Dr. Marilu Santos, 9right) and student researcher Hannah Worriax

Biology professor Dr. Marilu Santos, 9right) and  student researcher Hannah Worriax

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Another student studied how light and other environmental factors affected the growth of bacteria extracted from a hog lagoon.

With a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), four UNCP students worked to devise ways to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Their work went on display August 15 in the James B. Chavis University Center. Twenty-eight projects on display in poster form in the symposium.

Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said it was a productive summer for many UNCP students. 

“The students involved in research activities this summer worked very hard and made invaluable contributions, Dr. Harrington said. “They wrestled first hand with a number of extremely important environmental issues that are impacting our everyday lives. 

“I was impressed by their commitment and passion for the work,” he continued.  “The opportunities provided to students this summer to be involved in these types of research endeavors is a direct reflection of the commitment of our faculty.  Faculty spent countless hours with the students exposing them to new research equipment and techniques.” 

From left: Dr. Cornelia Tira and student researchers Kalyn Oakes and Bradley Eidschon.

From left: Dr. Cornelia Tira and student researchers Kalyn Oakes and Bradley Eidschon.

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Dr. Maria Pereira, a biology professor with the Biofuels Team this summer, called the symposium an “amazing event.” Dr. Pereira worked with  eight students on their research and posters.

“To see 28 poster projects on display like this is really quite a remarkable sight,” Dr. Pereira said.

“The important thing is that students are posing significant questions that have wider implications for research and society,” said Dr. Len Homes. “To know science, you have to do science.”

A chemistry professor, Dr. Holmes sponsored the work of three students, including Marisol Waters, a student from Fayetteville Technical Community College.

“I don’t know where else I could have had this kind of scientific experience,” Walters said. “It was worth the drive down here.”

Matthan Easterlin of Laurinburg, N.C., worked with the Biofuels Team.

“This is a trial run poster that could be used for on a school visit by the biodiesel reactor,” Easterlin said.

Ladipo Eso, a senior biology and chemistry major from Nigeria, said the biofuels projects was exciting and educational.

“It was and worth the time and energy we put into it,” Eso said.

Dr. Siva Mandjinny, who advised the Biofuels Team agreed.

“We worked very hard this summer, but it was worth it,” Dr. Mandjiny said. “It will look good on their resumes too.”

For more information about undergraduate research at UNCP, please call The Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity Center at 910.521.6196 or email

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