Each summer, students at the College of Charleston gain hands-on experience through Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty (SURF) grants, which pair students with faculty mentors to pursue impactful research projects.

This year, a committee of faculty members representing each of the College’s eight schools reviewed 58 applications. A total of 23 projects were each awarded a grant of up to $6,500.

SURF grants are highly competitive, according to Charlie Calvert, director of the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Program, which funds the SURF grants.

“We had an incredible turnout this year,” says Calvert, an associate professor of scenic design in the Department of Theatre and Dance. “We were also excited to partner with the Center for Sustainable Development, which provided some funding for SURF projects that had a sustainable focus.”

Here’s a look at 16 rising seniors who are working on SURF projects for the summer of 2022.

Hydrodynamic Simulations of Exoplanet Atmospheres with Variable Stars

Astrophysics major Aly Nida, under the mentorship of Ana Uribe, physics and astronomy instructor, is simulating how the atmosphere of a given planet would respond to the active conditions of a star. The data will be used to determine the specific conditions under which a planet may or may not be rendered uninhabitable.

Effects of Salinity on Oviposition Site Choice and Mate Choice in Squirrel Treefrogs

Biology major and Honors College student Regan Honeycutt, under the mentorship of Allison Welch, associate professor of biology, is studying the impact of freshwater salinization on the mate and habitat choice of female squirrel tree frogs, a common South Carolina amphibian. The research aims to show how environmental change can impact behaviors that help determine the success of vulnerable populations.

Continuation of HPC Cluster Research and Development

Computer science major and Honors College student Joseph Mitrick, under the guidance of Norman Levine, professor of geology and environmental geosciences, is utilizing a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster to help develop an application that will tie current and predicted gauge station tidal heights to associated inland flooding in real time.

Beautiful Women with Malicious Intent

English major and Honors College student Peyton Baxley, under the mentorship of  Tim Carens, professor of English, is studying how the femme fatale escapes the helplessness of being trapped in a patriarchal culture by pretending to be helpless in order to gain power and fulfill her desires.

Chemical Characteristics of Hybrid Lavas: Lassen Volcanic Province

Geology major Raymond Depalma, under the guidance of John Chadwick, associate professor of geology and environmental geosciences, is measuring key chemical elements and isotopes in lava samples from northern California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park to understand the extent and variability of mixing Lassen lava located in an area of continental extension known as the Basin and Range and its importance over the history of the Lassen volcanic system.

Lassen Volcano Lavas: Disequilibrium Mineralogy

Geology major and Honors College student Abagail Harper, under the mentorship of John Chadwick, associate professor of geology and environmental geosciences, is studying magma, underground molten rock, and how different sources of magma may be influencing lava flows from Lassen Volcano and surrounding volcanic centers in northern California.

Correlation Between Arsenic in Groundwater Wells and Faults in the Mid-state of North and South Carolina

Geology major Audrey Hayes, under the mentorship of Erin Beutel, associate professor of geology and environmental geosciences, is using the geospatial program Arc-GIS to create maps of arsenic concentrations versus known faults. They will then perform statistical analyses to determine the hazard rate of increased arsenic based on a number of variables.

Assessment of Antibiotic-resistant Indicator Organisms in Charleston’s Shem Creek: A Pilot Study

Marine biology major Katherine Highfill, under the guidance of Ewan Kingston, assistant professor of philosophy, is tracking patterns of disagreement within and between disciplines regarding the likely effectiveness of built (gray) infrastructure compared to natural (green) infrastructure by developing a case study on the responses of Charleston County towards sea-level rise and coastal flooding and conducting an interdisciplinary literature review of sea-level rise, coastal flooding and disaster risk management.

Localization of Rings and Categories

Mathematics major and Honors College student Terence Carey, under the mentorship of Oleg Smirnov, associate professor of mathematics, is studying how to create a connection between two mathematical theories: Ring Theory and Category Theory.

Flash Freezing Raindrops: Ice Nucleation Experiments

Physics major Griffin Hall, under the guidance of Mike Larsen, associate professor of physics and astronomy, is exploring the physical, chemical and biological variability of raindrops generated in different geographical and meteorological environments by flash freezing them to determine information about the drops’ composition and meteorological history.

Biases in Interpretation and Memory in Young Children: Linkages to Maternal Reminiscing

Psychology majors Leah Lancellotta and Ava Lubin, who is an Honors College student, under the guidance of Gabrielle Principe, psychology professor, are exploring how the way parents frame and guide conversations about earlier events may shape how children come to interpret and remember their experiences. They want to determine the sorts of early experiences that might contribute to the development of cognitive biases.

Prison Education, Democracy and Solidarity

Political science major Kaitlyn Victoria, under the mentorship of Briana McGinnis, assistant professor of political science, is studying how current expressivist theories neglect how government policies send messages to people being punished and the communities to which they belong. The research focuses on one message that can make the criminal legal system more reparative and forward-facing by offering incarcerated people the opportunity to take part in the college education experience.

Quantative Assessment of Antibiotic-resistant Fecal Coliforms

Public health major and Honors College student Brooke Emery, under the mentorship of Heather Fullerton, psychology professor, is studying water samples for the presence/absence of antibiotic-resistant organisms. They will plot detection of such organisms and study the relation to tidal status. They also aim to sequence the genetic composition of the organisms.

Zero-waste Stage Design: Digitizing the Scenography Process

Theatre major Ethan Robey, under the mentorship of Janine McCabe, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, is exploring the application of new digital techniques to stage design, which has traditionally been an analog process. The project will require an in-depth analysis of the script, time period and location of the play.

Developing the Costume Design Process

Theatre major and Honors College student Molly Rumph, under the guidance of Janine McCabe, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, is learning what is involved in the design of costumes for a theatrical production. The project will require in-depth analysis of the script and characters of multiple productions and extensive period research.