Forget about picnics, barbecues and a relaxing afternoon at the beach.

Twenty-three talented West Virginia students are packing up their lab coats and goggles and getting ready to head back to campus as part of West Virginia University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience June 1-July 31.

Coordinated by the Honors College, SURE teams math, science, technology and engineering majors from around the state with WVU faculty mentors, graduate students and postdoctoral associates from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences; Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences; and College of Engineering and Mineral Resources for an intensive, eight-week research program.

Participants have an exciting opportunity to gain real-world research experience while getting paid a $3,500 stipend for their time in the lab, said Rose Simis, SURE coordinator.

WVU junior Alisha Neal’s forensics experiment will focus on trying to come up with a technique to estimate the age of blood stains and other biological materials collected at crime scenes to be used in prosecuting criminal cases.

Neal will work alongside Cliff Bishop, director of the University’s nationally recognized forensic and investigative science program.

�€?I’m glad that the University provides this opportunity; it’s an excellent addition,�€? Bishop said. �€?Students who want to pursue a career in research really need to get first-hand experience.�€?

The WVU program offers a realistic view of research, he added, and will give them an edge when they apply to competitive graduate programs.

Neal first became interested in criminal profiling in middle school. She said SURE will help her develop some of the skills she needs for a future career in forensics.

According to Simis, students will be trained in the basic procedures and methodologies of the laboratory and attend a weekly one-hour research class. They will be required to present their research findings in the form of a poster presentation at the SURE Research Symposium in late July and may also have opportunities to travel to professional conferences.

Those selected to participate in the program are: Jennifer Beach , WVU , chemistry and forensic and investigative science double major from Hastings, Pa.; Marion Blankenship , WVU , biology major from Fairmont; Melissa Burky , Davis and Elkins College, chemistry major from Valley Grove; Kellen Calinger , WVU , biology major from Wheeling; Jamie Canfield , WVU , biology major from Parsons; Spencer Conner , Bethany College, physics major from Bridgeport, Ohio; Veronica Coptis , WVU , biology major from Graysville, Pa.; Adam Flack , WVU , pharmacy major from Charleston; Michelle Fowler , Bethany College, chemistry major from Mather, Pa.; Curran Gehring , WVU , wildlife and fisheries resources major from Redmond, Wash.; Joel Hirsh , Bethany College, physics major from Pittsburgh; Neha Kumar , WVU , biology major from Wheeling; Robert Leonard , WVU , physics and math double major from Hurricane; Joanna McQuaid , West Virginia Wesleyan College, chemistry major from Lumberport; Keri Morgan , WVU , biology major from Lewisburg; Alisha Neal , WVU , forensic and investigative science major from Morgantown ; Donna Radice , WVU , forensic and investigative science major from Chalfont, Pa. ; Kimberley Santiago , WVU , animal and veterinary science major from Morgantown ; Zach Schwertfeger , WVU , chemical engineering major from Wellsburg; Tia Spontak , WVU , medical laboratory technology major from Central City, Pa.; Bryan Vandigo , WVU , wood science and technology major from Chardon, Ohio; Jamie Walters , WVU , physics major from Morgantown; and Tristan Wolfe , WVU , mechanical and aerospace engineering major from Morgantown.

WVU faculty and graduate student mentors include: Martina Bachlechner , assistant professor of physics; Suzanne Bell , assistant professor of chemistry; Cliff Bishop , associate professor of biology; Ben Dawson-Andoh , associate professor of forestry; Sarah Farris , assistant professor of biology; Jorge Flores , associate professor of biology; Lisa Holland , assistant professor of chemistry; Xiaoqing Huang , biology research associate; Dale Karlson , assistant professor of plant and soil sciences; David Klinke , assistant professor of chemical engineering; John Kuhlman , professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; James McGraw , professor of biology; Megan McGroddy , visiting assistant professor of biology; Joseph Moritz , assistant professor of animal science; Richard Thomas , associate professor of biology; and Janet Tou , assistant professor of animal science.