MTSU uses National Science Foundation grant to hel...

MTSU uses National Science Foundation grant to help undergrads

MTSU will welcome college students from across the country to campus this year for an intensified research endeavor.

From May 27 to July 26, undergraduates will work with MTSU professors in a research experience funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

NSF logo webThe overall theme is environmental and involves the disciplines of Earth science, chemistry and biology, said Dr. Mark Abolins, coordinator of the Geoenvironmental Challenges Research Education for Undergraduates site and an MTSU associate professor of geology.

The site is the first of its kind at MTSU and one of only 21 such sites funded by the National Science Foundation.

The 10 students “will search for ancient inactive faults, investigate water and air quality and explore the ecology of rare cedar glade habitats,” Abolins said.

“Although the focus is science research, the research will also lead to a greater appreciation of the role of geology during the pivotal first day of the American Civil War Battle of Stones River,” he continued, “and the research will lead to a greater appreciation of the role of geology and botany in the lives of rural African-Americans after the war.”

The summer 2013 cohort will conduct eight weeks of research and explore Mammoth Caves and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a five-day field trip.

Dr. Mark Abolins

The 2013 students also will attend the 2014 Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The NSF grant of $368,000 also will enable MTSU to host similar endeavors in 2014 and 2015. The 2014 cohort will travel to meetings in Baltimore, Md., and the 2015 cohort will travel to meetings in Denver, Colo.

In addition to Abolins, MTSU faculty who will mentor the students are Drs. Melissa Lobegeier, associate professor of geosciences; Heather Brown, chair of the Concrete Industry Management Program; Ngee Sing Chong and Beng Guat Ooi, professors of chemistry; and Jeff Walck and Steve Howard, professors of biology.

Abolins said there were 37 applicants for the 10 student research positions.

Joining John D. Fultz of MTSU as the selected students are Joel Bostic of Western Carolina University, Kathryn Briggs of Western Kentucky University, Amanda R. Brown of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Joe T. Camacho of Humboldt State University, Shaina J. Dunn of Missouri State University, Kristina Krull of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Anthony J. Mims of Kutztown University, Emily I. Silveira of California State University-Fullerton and Shaunna D. Young, Radford University.

For more information, contact Abolins at

— Gina K. Logue (

A xeric limestone prairie, shown in this photo from the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, is one of the rare cedar glade habitats of Tennessee that may be part of a National Science Project grant-funded research experience led by MTSU this summer. (Photo courtesy of Terri Hogan / Center for Cedar Glade Studies at MTSU)