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Summer research puts students ahead for future careers

For seniors Stacie Cressman and Stephanie Weigold, this summer has been full of melting points, charts and equations and they couldn't be happier.

Both have been working since May to determine a new chemical reaction which will help in the development of pharmaceuticals. The project, which ends Friday, was made possible through the Hammel Research Grant. The grant is available through an endowment to HU faculty for research in the fields of natural sciences and mathematics.

For the two chemistry majors, the project with Dr. Tim Troyer, assistant professor of chemistry, was an opportunity to build up their resumes, and even more so, get published.

"It's a good experience for the undergraduates. It provides them that equivalent to an internship in a field that is very competitive," Troyer said.

The project began during Troyer's teaching career in West Virginia and continued when he became a professor at HU in 2012. This summer, though, the students made a breakthrough in their research. Troyer plans to publish the information later this year, hoping it will boost the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals currently on the market.

"It's new. It's different," he said. "No one has done this before. They have gotten the best conditions and the best yields."

This has been an invaluable experience for Cressman and Weigold, helping them develop critical thinking skills and research techniques. Troyer hopes other students will be able to have the same experiences in the future and that it will bring more interest to the university's pre-pharmacy program.

"These experiences will help to put our students ahead of the pack for jobs and graduate school applications," Troyer said. "Being published at the undergraduate level with original research is a huge leap forward for their careers."