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Class notes: North Georgia pushes undergraduate research over summer
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Over the summer, a handful of students in Dahlonega were given the opportunity to immerse themselves into a real-world research environment, including oceanography, art, music and wildlife studies.

North Georgia College & State University provides those opportunities through its Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities and the Faculty-Undergraduate Summer Engagement program.

Through CURCA, Patrick Pickens, president of the student government association at the university, joined assistant professor Holly Carpenter Desai at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego for an eight-week research stint.

The two continued Desai’s research into reflectins, a protein material found naturally in the skin of color-changing squids.

Desai and Pickens communicated with the FUSE program on the North Georgia campus while on the West Coast.

“The fact that we were able to support a team on the West Coast and have them Skype into FUSE meetings shows that CURCA is flexible and accommodating in its support of faculty-student research,” said Miriam Segura-Totten, associate professor of biology and CURCA director. “In my experience, summer research programs that are supported internally do not typically support teams to perform research at another location, especially if the location is out of state.”

The FUSE program also supported student research in some nontraditional research subjects, such as performing arts.

“This year we had a team from performing arts and a team from visual arts,” Segura-Totten said. “This is another exemplary feature of our program. Many other institutions focus mostly on (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.”

Students and faculty worked on original musical compositions and traditional folk pottery, which has roots in the area.

Other projects through the program included the restoration of habitat for rare birds, development of rehabilitation programs for the Lumpkin County Drug Court and a look into the potential for single-sex classrooms to outperform classes of mixed genders.

For more information on the program, visit www.northgeorgia.edu/curca.

Lee Johnson covers education issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:
ljohnson@gainesvilletimes.com, facebook.com/TimesLeeJohnson, @LeeJTimes

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