College of Arts and Sciences

Secondary Student Research Program

The Secondary Student Research Program (SSRP) is a paid summer research opportunity for high school students entering their junior or senior years the following fall.  Students are mentored under the direction of an AUM faculty member in the School of Sciences.  Students will learn the basics of scholarly (library-based) research to establish the appropriate contexts for their investigations, and they will be trained technically in the performance of laboratory and/or field research.  Finally, they will present their work to the AUM academic community and other interested persons.  Students accepted into the program will be paid a stipend of $1,250 upon successful completion of the program. 

Please contact the program coordinator, Dr. Pete Haddix, Associate Professor of Biology, at
334-244-3333 or email Dr. Pete Haddix with any additional questions or concerns. 

SSRP Application Materials 

2015 Secondary Student Research Program Faculty Mentors
 Pete Haddix
Dr. Pete Haddix, Department of Biology
Research published by the Haddix laboratory has identified two distinct roles for the pigment prodigiosin in cellular energy production by the bacterium Serratia marcescens.  A third role, that of an antioxidant which protects the cellular genome from reactive oxygen compound damage, has also been hypothesized.  In order to investigate this possible third function, we will identify and test a variety of chemical compounds for their abilities to select the growth of mutated (genome-damaged) bacteria.  Once a panel of suitable compounds has been identified, the compounds will be used to select mutant bacteria resistant to them.  The mutation rates of pigmented and non-pigmented bacteria will then be measured and compared as a test of prodigiosin’s antioxidant capabilities.  Students applying for this position should have an interest in both mathematics (particularly probability) and genetics.

Dr. Bridgette Harper, Department of Psychology
My student will be involved in entering data, checking data, and some easier statistical analysis using SPSS. I think it is important to not stop at data entry, but to run analyses with the students so they can view the fruits of their labor.  In addition, running analyses with me could actually lead to an early publication for the student down the road. In addition, I am in the process of designing a new study examining the role of video games and children’s psychosocial adjustment.  I plan to teach my student how to conduct a literature review and together we will begin the process of formulating a good research question for this possible study.  If the study is eventually funded, my student would have the opportunity, even if he or she is still in high school, to help collect data for this study and again could be a part of a publication.

Dr. Daniel Kim

Dr. Daniel Kim, Department of Chemistry
Discoloration of dyes is the research that I am proposing to lead high school students. Dyes are aromatic compounds which have the ability to absorb light in the visible wavelengths range (400–700 nm). Some dyes are potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic (can cause mutations in organisms), as well as genotoxic (can damage DNA). The necessity of preventing the dyestuff effluent from entering the ecosystem cannot be exaggerated. The research work will be guided as such:
•      Presentation on how dye materials show colors.
•      Presentation on how reactive species react with dyes for the discoloration. (by using reactive    
       chlorine (Cl2) from bleach and hydroxyl radicals produced from advanced oxidation technologies).
•      Work on dye degradation by reactive species of Cl2 or hydroxyl radicals.
•      Instrumental methods to be used for the analysis of compounds: UV-Vis spectrometer,  
        Fluorescenephotometer, and Infra-red spectrometer.

Shelly Taliaferro, Department of Biology
The area that I would like to explore with a student is that of aquatic ecology, specifically, an ecological assessment of the body of water at AUM known as “Duck Pond”. To my knowledge, a survey of that aquatic community has not been done, and this easily-accessible resource provides an excellent opportunity for a student to learn a great deal about freshwater biology, macroinvertebrates, algae, water chemistry parameters and more. Not only will a student learn a great deal of conceptual information with this project, he or she will complete the project, having developed a useful science skill set –an asset for future scientific endeavors. During this project, a few days will be spent collecting samples and measurements at the pond; about 2.5 weeks will be spent in the laboratory, sorting and identifying specimens; and a week will be spent analyzing data and producing the final research presentation. Throughout this project, students will learn a great deal about invertebrate biology and ecological interactions, while developing skills to include: research of a topic, field collection techniques using a variety of equipment; water chemistry analysis; identification of invertebrates and algae using dichotomous keys; proficient use of compound and stereo microscopes; preservation of specimens; preparation of slides; analysis of invertebrate community structure and function using Environmental Protection Agency guidelines; statistical analysis of results; and the methods used to produce a poster to illustrate the project’s final results.