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STEPS Welcomes the New Class of REU Scholars

STEPS REU 2023 group photo at Tidewater Research Station
The 2023 REU group during an orientation week visit to STEPS' triple bottom line research site, the Tidewater Research Station.

Last month, STEPS welcomed this year’s class for our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. This program supports undergraduate students from across the United States in their pursuit of individual research projects and provides mentorship from other STEPS scholars and faculty. 

The scholar’s orientation began on Tuesday, May 30th at NC State University where they were introduced to the STEPS Center, the Center’s research, and Center leadership. Additionally, the students connected with research mentors to learn about conducting research, including what is research, different ways of knowing, and how to keep a lab notebook. This initial session was led by STEPS faculty including Dr. Jan Genzer, Dr. Jacob Jones, Dr. Gail Jones, Dr. Christine Hendren, Dr. James Elser, and postdoctoral scholars Dr. Kim Bourne, Dr. Jess Deaver, and Dr. Alison Deviney. 

The orientation week continued on Wednesday where scholars attended the Center’s 2nd annual NSF site visit presentations. Here, scholars met with STEPS faculty, staff, and scholars in person and walked through a poster session presented by other STEPS scholars. In the afternoon, they met with an NC State librarian to learn more about library resources and how they could use them during their summer projects. 

On Thursday, the REU students were introduced to the convergence project, a project that is complementary to each scholar’s research project and requires the students to work together. This year’s scholars chose to focus on connecting food waste to the phosphorus flow diagram. More specifically, the scholars hope to develop an interactive phosphorus flow diagram by the end of the summer. 

The scholars’ first week with STEPS closed out on Friday with a field trip to the Tidewater Research Station in Plymouth, NC (pictured above). This research station is an affiliate of NC State University and houses research projects related to entomology, plant pathology, crop and soil sciences, horticulture science, and aquaculture. Here, the scholars toured the station and listened to several presenters and their research related to phosphorus sustainability. 

On the way back from this field trip, the scholars stopped at the SePRO Research & Technology Campus in Whitakers, NC, a small company that develops products for plant protection and water resource management. Here, the scholars listened to one of the company’s research scientists who is developing and testing new materials related to phosphorus capture in ponds/lakes and agricultural runoffs. Students watched a demonstration of the Eutrosorb product. 

SePRO staff share their product, Eutrosorb, with REU scholars.

All in all, the scholars had a packed first week of orientation to the REU. Orientation is only the beginning of their 10-week experience, where scholars will develop research projects related to their career and research interests. 

Please help us welcome the new class of REU scholars to the STEPS Center!