Chemistry students adding liquid to beakers

Prepare for Success in the SURVE Program

Students in our SURVE program engage in various activities meant to promote an understanding of “science as a vocation” in light of the Benedictine wisdom tradition. Through daily prayer, community meals, reading & discussion, lectures, and the opportunity to attend daily Mass, young men and women can grow in their faith, learn about the nature of science and the vocation of the scientist, and gain research experience that will prepare them for their career goals.

Through SURVE, students explore the harmony and complementarity of faith and reason and the “integration of knowledge” described in Ex Corde Ecclesia within the Benedictine Wisdom Tradition. Students also have opportunities to practice the Benedictine motto of “ora et labora” (“pray and work”) through participation in communal prayer and daily Mass. Through assigned reading, discussions, interactions with visiting scholars, and participation in volunteer and science outreach activities, SURVE students broaden their perspectives to understand the vocation of the scientist in the wider social, ethical, and spiritual context.

Explore the components of SURVE below and reach out to us to get started!

SURVE students and faculty work together in a scientific community, sharing times of prayer, meals, lab meetings, journal clubs, and seminars. Students and faculty also have the opportunity to attend daily mass together. Fostering a sense of community and promoting interdisciplinary collaborations are major goals of the SURVE program.

SURVE is a 10-week program, lasting from approximately late May through early August. (If you have a special circumstance, or have general questions about flexible internship dates, please contact us).

Local University of Mary students may choose to live on or off-campus. If you are not already a University of Mary student, you may wish to live on-campus during the summer.

Many of our SURVE students also choose to take advantage of the University of Mary’s Year-Round Campus course offerings to get ahead in their coursework. We have found that students in SURVE tend to be most successful when they take no more than one course per summer session, which allows them time for lab projects and to make progress on research.

Meet the Faculty

James A. Peliska, PhD

Associate Dean of Math and Sciences, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry, Fellow in Catholic Studies

Types of SURVE Projects

The Ronderos biology lab students focus on the characterization of genes in the visual system.  We use a model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, to identify genes required for vision.  These students learn to perform various techniques, including Electrophysiology, DNA isolation, PCR, DNA gel electrophoresis, Enzymatic Restriction Digests, DNA Ligation and Transformation, Preparation of Competent cell, Western blot, basic fly husbandry, and CRISPR experimental design.

The Boyle biology lab uses publicly available museum records to reconstruct how different species' presence and abundance have changed over the 20th and 21st centuries. We use statistical and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques to test how changes in land-use, agricultural practice, and more have affected biological communities in the United States. Students learn to use the well known R program for statistical analysis and data visualization, mapping, and statistical testing.

The Biggane biology lab students investigate how bioelectricity influences cell behaviors outside the nervous system. Through this work, we aim to understand mechanisms of change in cancer-related cell characteristics (e.g., proliferation, migration, invasion). Students learn techniques in pharmacology, cell culture, microscopy, electrophysiology, computational analysis, gene expression analysis, and western blotting.

Our Biochemistry lab, together with the biology and chemistry labs, studies biochemical enzyme mechanisms. We also study the mechanism of action of several classes of novel inhibitors of the HIV-1 polymerase reverse transcriptase. Using a combination of biochemical techniques, in silico modeling methods, and organic synthesis, we are trying to design, build, and study increasingly more potent inhibitors of this important viral therapeutic target. This lab is led by Dr. Peliska.

Our students in the Chemistry lab use computational modeling and molecular simulations to understand the mechanisms by which proteins operate. By studying the effects of mutations at important sites in the protein, we explore the pathways of communication throughout the protein to identify allosteric sites, predict amino acids that are critical for function, and identify the molecular basis of the protein's mechanism. This group is led by Dr. Barr.

Together with the chemistry lab, our Engineering lab develops and uses statistical analysis techniques for analyzing large and complex data sets. Our current work studies Galvanic Skin Resistance (GSR) as a measure of stress and examines its ability to predict student performance in engineering coursework. This group is led by Dr. Oweis.