Small green plant in petri dish

An immediate impact

Research opportunities abound the moment students enroll at UWM. Freshmen can explore research even before their first semester, thanks to the UR@UWM Summer Research for Incoming Students program. And throughout their time at UWM, undergraduates can work directly with talented faculty at one of the nation’s top research universities. Students learn about the research process, and many gain experience using scientific equipment.

More than 750 undergraduate research opportunities covering hundreds of topics are available each year. Students can even earn money for their work through such programs as Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows and the Senior Excellence in Research Awards. For many students, working with faculty members, who are world-class experts in their field, helps them refine their career goals and get valuable hands-on experience. Here are several students who have done just that.

Eugene Cherry examining patient

Eugene Cherry

Eugene Cherry is researching how to better diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy. It’s the most common complication of diabetes, and Cherry wants to focus his research on helping inner-city populations. Through his work with Sandra Millon-Underwood, a professor in the College of Nursing, Cherry earned Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows funding. (UWM Photo/Alexis Amenson)

Lainey Koch standing next to trailer

Lainey Koch

Lainey Koch, a junior studying photography, helped turn a trailer into a camera obscura with a built-in darkroom. A camera obscura, or pinhole image, is the natural phenomenon that occurs when an image is projected through a small hole in a screen, showing up on an opposite surface as a reversed and inverted image. Koch took the camera to local festivals and events to teach attendees about the science of analog photography. She collaborated on the project with Joseph Mougel, an associate professor of photography and imagery, and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. (UWM Photo/Alexis Amenson)

Nisrit Pandey in a lab

Nisrit Pandey

Nisrit Pandey looks forward to a career exploring renewable energy, and he’s already doing research in the field. He’s done experiments in the lab of Benjamin Church, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, that focuses on lithium and lead-acid batteries. In 2017, Pandey – originally from Kathmandu, Nepal – was one of five students selected for UWM’s Senior Excellence in Research Award. “He regularly inspires students who want to enter the field of energy sciences,” Pandey says of Church. “Working with him for the past three years has provided me with significant exposure in renewable energy, helping me jump-start a career in the field.” (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Nathon Breu looking at a plant

Nathon Breu

Nathon Breu, a senior in American Indian studies, researches how the Ojibwe used plants for building materials, food and medicine. A former paramedic and of Ojibwe descent himself, he interviews elders and attends ceremonies in which the plants are used. Breu, a father of seven, plans to go on to earn his doctorate. “This area is rich in Native history and culture, which fits perfectly for me and my research,” Breu says. “I want to teach native history, culture and language, continuing my research on ethnobotany.” (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Sara Seidita in a lab

Sara Seidita

Sara Seidita, a junior biology major, studies how bugs called treehoppers create vibrations through plants to communicate with potential mates. Her research will increase understanding of mating and behavioral habits and how they contribute to the formation of new and distinct species. Seidita also helps collect treehoppers at Downer Woods and the UWM Field Station and raise them at the UWM greenhouse. Seidita’s work with Rafael Rodriguez Sevilla, a professor of biological sciences, earned her Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows funding. (UWM Photo/Alexis Amenson)