Photo of student and mentor in a laboratory
The College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) undergraduate students are invited to apply for the 2024 Inspire Summer Scholars Program.

Program Description

The goal of this summer program is to provide Experiential Learning (EL) to undergraduate science and mathematics majors.  Students will develop skills to enhance their interest in undergraduate research, service learning, and internships.

Each student accepted to the program will be hired as student assistant and paid at the rate of $12.75 per hour. Although each week may vary, students may work up to 20 hours per week. In addition to meeting the expectations of the research project, students will be expected to complete training during the first week of the program and submit a report and digital poster at the end of the program.


May 22 - July 31, 2024 (10-weeks)

Student Eligibility

This program is open to any undergraduate student with a major in the CSM. There are no course prerequisites. Students will be selected based on a match of their interests with projects available. Students will be able to view available projects and apply for the program below. Preference will be given to students in their first or second year of study without prior experience. First generation students or members of a population that is underrepresented in science and mathematics are strongly encouraged to apply.

    • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joanna Wardwell-Ozgo 
      Format: In person, Kennesaw 
      During development, tissues and organs must develop and grow at the same rate. This is accomplished through small molecules called hormones and the receptor proteins that they bind. The combined action of hormones and their receptor allows the cell to decipher a message about the development of other organs and allows organs to develop and grow in step with one another. A longstanding, unanswered biological question, though, is why tissues respond to the same hormone differently. To address this, the Wardwell-Ozgo lab on the Kennesaw Campus uses the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to explore tissue-specific developmental decisions induced by hormones. We achieve this by using our innovative Drosophila tools that allow us to elegantly remove hormone signaling from individual cells and measure the resulting functional consequences.  
      Students will gain wet-lab experience in Drosophila genetics, microdissection, cytology, and microscopy while they explore how hormone signaling talks to a pathway that regulates growth called the Hippo growth control pathway. Students can expect to be directly mentored by Dr. Wardwell-Ozgo as they learn these new skills and also work with her to analyze the data generated from the project and communicate their findings to the community at the KSU Fall Scholar’s Symposium. Students will have the opportunity to attend lab meetings and have one-on-one meetings with Dr. Wardwell-Ozgo throughout the course of the project.
    • Faculty Mentors: Dr. Min Wang and Dr. Pengcheng Xiao 
      Format: Virtual 

      Machine learning (ML) has emerged as a dynamic field, showcasing its power through successful applications across various disciplines. In this project, the students will experience how to develop ML models in Minecraft, the most popular sandbox game. Leveraging its nearly unlimited virtual world creation ability, virtual environments akin to the real world will be created in Minecraft, and various ML models will be developed to complete diverse missions in those virtual environments. 
      The students will first learn the necessary mathematical and statistical knowledge by completing 
      a series of mini-projects. Then they will investigate a particular open-ended problem under the 
      PIs’ mentoring. The students will be required to attend the project meetings regularly and to submit weekly reports on the progress made in the previous week. At the end of the tenth week, the students will deliver an oral presentation on their research outcomes and experience through this project, and submit the materials required by the program. The students will also be encouraged to present their work at the KSU Symposium of Student Scholars in the following fall semester.

      Through this project, the students will

      1. learn fundamental mathematical and statistical knowledge related to ML;
      2. develop hands-on Python programming skills on data analytics and ML;
      3. develop the ability to implement mathematical formula/flowchart with Python;
      4. develop the independent study ability leveraging various resources, e.g., KSU library, online databases, online tutorials, etc.;
      5. develop public presentation and technical writing skills.

      This project will demonstrate the application and importance of mathematics in real life, hence helping students understand the necessity of their future mathematical courses. This experience will also inspire students’ interests in STEM and will be a good reference for students’ career planning.

    • Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carl Saint-Louis 
      Format: In person, Kennesaw 
      Flat-structured heterocycles partially substituted with a boron-nitrogen bond, such as polycyclic aromatic 1,2-azaborines (PAAs), are highly valued for their unique optoelectronic properties and exceptional photochemical stability, making them ideal candidates for a wide range of applications including laser diodes, photo diodes, solar cells, LEDs, and optical fibers. These optoelectronic devices are utilized in a variety of electronic project kits, as well as in telecommunications, military operations, and medical applications. Incorporating a nitro (NO2) group as a strong electron-accepting group into PAAs in order to red-shift their fluorescence and create electron-deficient n-type organic conjugates such as organic light-emitting diodes, organic solar cells, and organic field-effect transistors causes significant fluorescence reduction/quenching. Furthermore, these NO2-substituted PAAs tend to aggregate at high concentrations. As a result, aggregate formation causes fluorescence quenching, commonly known as Aggregation Induced Quenching (ACQ). Because of the ACQ issue, they are challenging to use in a variety of applications. Therefore, the variety of accessible NO2-substituted PAAs that fluoresce at high concentrations must be expanded.  
      This summer, we will address the ACQ problem by developing viable strategies for increasing the fluorescence of NO2-substituted PAAs by modifying their molecular geometry and incorporating the concept of Aggregation-Induced Emission (AIE), which is an increase in fluorescence as the PAAs aggregate. These discoveries will aid in the design of future NO2-substituted polycyclic aromatic 1,2-azaborines with strong fluorescence, as well as understanding how molecular geometry influences these compounds' optoelectronic capabilities.

      This research project will be conducted in person in the Saint-Louis research laboratory on the Kennesaw campus and it is intended to engage undergraduate students in intensive hypothesis-driven research. Students will perform a variety of tasks, including:

      • conducting research and data collection using various techniques and procedures;  
      • assisting in an organic chemistry laboratory on the synthesis of novel PAAs;  
      • carrying out characterization experiments using 1H and 13C NMR, as well as mass spectrometry, to interpret and analyze data;  
      • planning and modifying research techniques, procedures, tests, and equipment;
      • writing and editing materials for publication and presentation;
      • meeting on a frequent basis with the faculty supervisor to maintain continuing communication about the quality of the assistant's performance;
      • presenting preliminary results at a symposium; and
      • performing other related duties as required. 


Faculty Information

All full time CSM faculty are eligible to participate and will receive summer pay for leading/co-leading projects. Each faculty member is expected to mentor a team of at least 4 students in an undergraduate research project to receive 10% in summer salary. Students accepted to the program will be hired as student assistants and paid at the rate of $12.75 per hour. Although each week may vary, students are expected to work up to 20 hours per week. Funds for materials and supplies related to the work will be provided with discipline-specific considerations. Individuals or teams of faculty may apply.

For eligibility and how to apply, please see drop down for more information:

  • Faculty interested in participating in this program must submit a plan (3-page limit) for an undergraduate research, service learning, or internship experience that addresses the following criteria:

    • Description of the overarching theme of the project,
    • Knowledge and skills that students will acquire in practice, and after critical reflection,
    • Budget with justification,
    • How the project meets QEP Characteristics of an Engaged Learning Undergraduate Research Experience, and
    • How student learning will be assessed.   

    Thank you for your interest, but applications are no longer being accepted. The faculty application deadline was Monday, November 27, 2023.

    Please contact for questions.

    Application Review: The Dean will designate reviewers for this program. The review committee for student applicants shall consult with program faculty.