Celebrating 100 years with MSU Texas: EURECA undergraduate research

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:58 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - News Channel 6 is celebrating a century with Midwestern State University and we are taking a look at something called a signature experience at the university. It’s called EURECA, but this undergraduate research program is unique. Here’s more on how it’s giving students an upper hand in college and life after graduation.

For a lot of college students, it’s time for midterms, but for the 20 students part of MSU Texas’ EURECA program, it’s time to show off the progress they have made in their research projects.

EURECA is unique because each student accepted gets a stipend, along with needed funding for materials and travel. They also get special support by being paired with a faculty mentor.

“The mentors are there to teach the students how to do the research,” Dr. Stacia Miller, MSU Texas director of undergraduate research and associate professor, said. “Research can be very discipline specific, and so they’re there to teach them the processes, they’re there to guide them on how to find resources, what kind of methodology, those kinds of things.”

While there’s no course credit, EURECA falls under something called a high impact practice. National research shows students who take part in things like travel abroad, internships or undergraduate research do better in college overall.

“My research is about reverting the resistance to an antibiotic called Erythromycin and E. coli,” Ryan Azzouz, MSU Texas student, said. “So basically what we do is we treat the E. coli with a drug that it isn’t resistant to called tetracycline. So essentially at a certain concentration, tetracycline would kill E. coli. So if we expose it to a concentration of tetracycline less than that, which we found to be like around .5, it will not kill the bacteria but it will damage it. We’re hoping that that damage will eventually lead to the Erythromycin resistance being reverted in E. coli.”

“We’re doing economic research that’s analyzing the balance of payments across the states in the United States and if they have any correlation with American voting behavior, such as their political parties,” Gabriella Pettijohn, MSU Texas student, said.

“As far as our goal with this, I’m hoping that just as a broad goal, we can have more informed voters by knowing, ‘hey if I’m going to vote with this party, this is what they’re actually doing with our taxes,’” Austin Strode, MSU Texas student, said.

“I’m so impressed with the variety of different research projects that we had,” Miller said. “Many of the projects would actually be really important to things that are going on in our local community. So I think that the connection to one another, to the community, to the things that are going on in the world right now is very pertinent and I was very impressed with their presentations.”

EURECA has found that research also helps students wanting to further their education.

“It’s a great experience,” Azzouz said. “I think it’s really beneficial. I think it’s good for introducing students and college students to the experience of research that they are later going to experience when they go to graduate school and stuff like that.”

And it helps set students up for success for life after graduation.

“We find that students learn a lot about research,” Miller said. “We also find that students are able to relate to future career opportunities through their research. We also find that there’s a lot of critical thinking and problem solving skills that they develop through this program as well.”

All MSU Texas centennial celebration stories can be found by clicking here.

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