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Widener students spend summers doing research that could improve lives.

One Widener University student spent the summer testing Thai basil to determine whether it protects against strains of bacteria. Another looked at the effects of herbicides on crayfish.

And, yet others, put their minds together to try to create a synthetic version of a compound in red wine that was shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

These projects weren’t just an opportunity for the undergraduate students to grow as leaders and innovators in their fields. They were the types of research that could eventually improve lives.

“I think about the prospects,” said Connelly Richards, a junior chemistry and chemical engineering major who worked on the Alzheimer’s research. “If this becomes a supplement that can stop plaques building up in the brain, then it could be extremely important.”

While many universities offer research possibilities to graduate students, Widener offers these opportunities to undergraduates – giving them an early advantage in their chosen fields.

The summer research program began in 2009. This year, more than 60 students and 30 faculty mentors from the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering participated.

At a time of year when most take a break from learning, these students worked one-on-one with faculty members and then collaborated across disciplines to help strengthen each other’s work.

At other universities, that one-on-one relationship with professors is not always there. That's what is so cool about Widener – that you have that opportunity.

Taylor Horvat ‘19

Horvat, a junior chemistry and chemical engineering major, worked in the laboratory with Dr. Krishna Baht, an associate professor of chemistry, to compare traditional synthesis to a greener version for chemicals that are used in fragrances and perfumes.

Once a week, she joined students from disciplines that are very different from her own. She met students like Stephanie Laurancy, a senior international relations and political science major who worked with associate professor Dr. Becky Jones to explore how immigration is observed in Latin America.

“I wanted to know if people there view immigration as we do in the U.S.,” Laurancy said. “It’s been great having the time to meet with Dr. Jones one-on-one to review my findings.”

The summer research students will once again come together on Friday, October 6 for the annual symposium. To learn more about the research, stop by University Center from 3 to 7 p.m.