Lee University has launched the Work-Study Research Assistant Program to provide research experience to undergraduates under faculty mentorship.
According to Dr. Kevin Ung, WRAP partners first-year freshman and sophomore students with select faculty to conduct research they are interested in and utilizes the Federal Work-Study Program to identify the students who demonstrate a financial need and prioritize them for the opportunity. Dr. Ung is the director of the McNair Scholars Program and serves as coordinator for WRAP.
Among the faculty currently working with WRAP students are Dr. Thaddeus R. McRae, associate professor of biology; Dr. Jason Schmurr, associate professor of mathematics; and Dr. Arlie Tagayuna, associate professor of sociology.
“I enjoy walking with students through the research process,” said Dr. McRae. “The WRAP program directly helps train people in this process of science early in their time at Lee, which translates into greater experience and skill upon graduation.”
Dr. McRae is working with two students on his research about the use of trees on Lee’s campus by nesting birds. The research intends to utilize the findings to compare the diversity, abundance, and success of nesting birds between the ecosystem of campus and the ecosystem of local forests.
“This has been such a great experience,” said Sarah Wood, a freshman biology major with ecology and environmental emphasis, who works with Dr. McRae. “I think it’s so beautiful that I get to be a part of this program as a freshman and learn skills that I will use for the rest of my life.”
Stanley Miller, a freshman marketing major, is working with Schmurr on research about finding the win probabilities in various competitions. Their study is focused on finding the win probability of a player in Candy Land with the help of a feed-forward neural network.
“My experience has led to a significant development in my programming skills and statistical reasoning,” said Mr. Miller. “Every week I crash course topics like Python programming and neural networks. WRAP has benefitted me far beyond what I could do on my own.”
Dr. Tagayuna is working with sophomore criminal justice major Destiny Bravo on a research about the dynamics of policing from a Christian viewpoint. This national study explores the “lived-in” experiences of police officers who also happen to be preachers and how they navigate themselves through the various contemporary social issues confronting them.
“WRAP benefits both students and faculty, primarily with the students’ exposure to research that they get introduced to early on and the faculty benefit from getting an extra hand in collecting and analyzing data,” said Dr. Tagayuna.
For more information about WRAP, contact Dr. Ung at email@example.com.