Cassandra Housh considers the research work she’s doing as part of the process of getting ready to start college at UW–Milwaukee.
Housh is one of 20 incoming first-year students who are working in UWM faculty laboratories this summer. She works with Sarah Morgan, assistant professor of nursing and assistant scientist in the College of Nursing Self-Management Science Center. Housh assists Morgan with her research on pain management for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia who live in a community setting.
Other students in the program are working with faculty mentors on such diverse projects and research as a documentary film, the Chinese stock market, evaluation of the Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court, post-partum depression, transgenic zebra fish, optical imaging, hand-grip rehabilitation and many others.
This is the second year for the four-week freshman research program, which is coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). Students live in the Sandburg Residence Hall, work with faculty and take part in weekly seminars on the culture of university research, according to Kyla Moore, associate director of OUR. The students also have Monday morning community sessions with other incoming first-year students enrolled in the Summer Bridge program. The sessions focus on making the transition to university life. Many, like Housh, are still figuring out their majors. Housh says she thinks she’s interested in the medical field, but not sure if she’ll major in nursing or study in another school or college at UWM.
Housh is part of a team of student researchers working with Morgan. That team also includes Tabatha Moore, a McNair Scholar, Sister Marietah Kilundo, a Kenyan-born scholar from Alverno College funded through the Consortium for Institutional Cooperation (CIC) program and Bao Xiong, a junior nursing major who is funded through the OUR’s SURF (Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows) program.
“These are fabulous programs,” says Morgan, who says she enjoys working with all the student researchers. “It’s hard to find funds for the help you need when you’re doing research projects. With these programs, the students are learning something about research and I am getting help with my work.”
“The summer program was started to get more lower-level students involved in undergraduate research, as well as to help attract and retain high-achieving students at UW–Milwaukee,” adds Moore. “It’s about building a culture of undergraduate research on our campus. Where better to start than with new freshmen?”