Three undergraduate students from the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) will be participating in prestigious summer internships across the country.
Laura Herring, Ciarra Smith, and Katelyn Swiderski all received the chance to join undergraduate research programs this summer in their respective fields of interest. The topics the students will be working on range from child poverty and education to neurobiology and medical research.
“I am very proud of what our students and undergraduate researchers are able to accomplish during their time at the SSRC. We strive to foster an environment that allows young researchers to learn and be better prepared to tackle the problems and questions of the future,” said Dr. Art Cosby, Director of the SSRC.
SSRC Intern Laura Herring is an undergraduate student in the MSU College of Business and a double major in International Business and Spanish. She has been competitively selected to participate in the World Vision International Summer 2018 Internship Program. Herring joined the SSRC in January as an intern for Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi on the Focus4Teens and USAID Soybean Innovation Lab projects.
World Vision International is a global Christian-based organization seeking to affect change by partnering with children, families, and communities to tackle poverty and injustice. During her summer internship there, Herring will be working with the Child Protection & Education Team for the Latin American projects in Washington, DC.
“I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with World Vision International and assist in proving humanitarian relief and sustainable resources to children and communities in Latin America,” said Herring.
While at MSU, Herring has been very active in community programs. She is a student worker at the Mississippi Migrant Education Service Center and a recipient of the Presidential Endowed Scholarship. She is also the Executive Director and Founder of No Lost Generation at MSU and a founding member of the Diversity Alliance Response Team (DART). Herring previously served as the Foreign Service Intern at the U.S. Department of State, Consulate General in Italy in 2016 and as an English teacher at the Center of Participation and Integration of Immigrants in Spain in 2017.
“While at World Vision International, I hope to learn how global non-profits function and provide humanitarian relief,” she said. “Additionally, I hope to expand upon what I have learned about sustainable development at the Social Science Research Center and better understand how World Vision International targets the causes of poverty in order to provide sustainable, community-based solutions.”
Herring will be rejoining the SSRC as an intern in Fall 2018.
Ciarra Smith, an undergraduate student in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology and an undergraduate research assistant for The Message Lab, has been accepted to take part in a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this summer at Northwestern University. The research, under the direction of Dr. Antonio Sanz-Clemente, will explore the molecular mechanisms behind learning and memory.
Smith, who is majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Philosophy, plans to earn a master’s degree in Bioethics and a doctorate in Neurobiology in the future. Her time at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, will allow her the chance to conduct Neurobiology research.
“I am excited about the opportunity to study how our brain cells interact with each other and how those interactions can go awry,” she said.
Smith is currently an undergraduate research assistant in the SSRC’s Message Lab and is supervised by Dr. Holli Seitz. She contributes to projects and research related to science and health communication, as well as independent research directed by Dr. Seitz. Smith is a recipient of the Provost Scholarship at MSU, a scholarship that focuses on finding and supporting the next generation of researchers. She is also the current Nonfiction Editor of The Streetcar where she engages with the campus community to promote student development of creative works in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art.
“While in Evanston, I hope to learn some practical neurobiology techniques such as cell imaging and basic care, but I would also like to bring to Dr. Sanz-Clemente’s lab the added insight in how scientific findings translate to the public, a discussion I’ve become more aware of since working with Dr. Seitz at the SSRC,” Smith continued.
Ciarra will be returning to the SSRC in the fall, where she will begin working as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Art Cosby. She will also be working on an Honors Directed Individual Study with Dr. Holli Seitz to continue her current research experiment examining how scientific misinformation in social media can be corrected.
Katelyn Swiderski, an undergraduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences and an SSRC undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi, has been competitively selected to participate in the 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS).
Swiderski is currently pre-med, with plans of graduating in December 2018 with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences. After graduation, Swiderski plans on obtain an M.D. At UAMS, Swiderski will work under the supervision of UAMS faculty, Dr. Julia Liu, on the role of innate immune-mediated cell death and barrier dysfunction in the pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
“I am very excited to be participating in the 2018 SURP at UAMS,” she said. “During my recent undergraduate studies in Immunology, I have become very interested in the complex workings of the Immune system and its role it in the increasing presence of chronic disease in industrialized society. Therefore, I am very excited to be working under Dr. Julia Liu on her research into the role of innate immune-mediated cell death and barrier dysfunction in the pathogenesis of IBD.”
Swiderski joined the SSRC as a summer intern in 2017 as part of the research team of Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi. Her performance as an SSRC intern led to a position as an SSRC undergraduate research assistant during Fall 2017. She worked with Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi on two multi-year research projects, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded Focus4Teens Evaluation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab.
“I am excited to gain knowledge and exposure in the field of gastroenterology, which I hope to apply during my future medical education and career. This opportunity to study at UAMS this summer would not have been possible without knowledge and skills I acquired during my time at the SSRC,” said Swiderski. “I am extremely grateful to Drs. Ragsdale & Wahidi, along with the entire SSRC team, for bringing me aboard research projects, which allowed me to gain valuable experience and taught me to always look for the “why” behind major issues at hand.”
She is currently studying for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) with plans of obtaining a high score and applying to the U.S. Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) for funding of her future medical career.