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Summer research program attracts top students


Outstanding students from across the country are now participating in the NDSU Summer STEM program, organized by NDSU’s Office of Multicultural Programs in the Division of Equity, Diversity and Global Outreach with support from the Office of the Provost.

Stephanie Dunton, a biology major from Virginia State University, Petersburg, is among 12 students taking part in this year’s program. “I am really enjoying it. Everything is the maximum, the top of the line for me,” said Dunton, who is conducting research on plant phenolics with postdoctoral research fellow Dipayan Sarkar and Kalidas Shetty, associate vice president for international partnerships and collaborations and professor of plant metabolism and food security in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Planning a career in health care, Dunton is using NDSU facilities to study plant chemical compounds at the molecular level. She’s looking at plant phenolics from fruits and vegetables, looking for ways to improve disease prevention and better manage illnesses.

Apart from family and friends, she’s finding NDSU to be a welcoming place. “The campus is beautiful, green and very quiet. It reminds me of my home in the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” she said. “I absolutely love it here and the people are very friendly.”

The STEM program gives underrepresented ethnic minority students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields the opportunity to engage in research and also encourage them to apply for graduate school. The hope is that a significant number of these students will choose continuing their education at NDSU.

This year, students are working in a variety of academic areas, including pharmacy, mathematics, computer engineering and cereal and food science. They have traveled to NDSU from Prairie View A&M University, Virginia State University, Delaware State University and Mississippi Valley State University. Now in its seventh year, the program began May 20 and continues until July 15, when the students are scheduled to give oral and poster presentations on their research.

Many of the program’s institutional partnerships initially began when the students’ home schools played the Bison in athletic competition, typically football.

“NDSU, through programming activities, provides enhanced opportunities academically and culturally for people of diverse cultures and backgrounds by combining NCAA athletics and academics. We have been particularly successful working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in our recruitment efforts,” explained Deland Myers, professor of cereal and food sciences in the Department of Plant Sciences, who also serves as the NCAA faculty athletic representative and director of academic diversity recruitment in the Provost’s Office. “More importantly, the presence of these students on our campus has enriched the community, campus and respective laboratories where they have worked.”

Clearly, the program produces successful results.

Ebony Sampson, now an NDSU graduate research assistant in cereal science, previously participated in the program as an undergraduate student at Morgan State University.

“Before participating in the internship I never considered a graduate degree, but since being a part of it, my academic trajectory has changed,” Sampson said, noting after two summer internships at NDSU, she moved her husband and three children to Fargo to continue her education.

“I now realize my own potential and have decided not to limit my goals,” she said. “Who knows what the future holds? The summer STEM research program has opened the door to infinite possibilities for me.”

For more information on the NDSU Summer STEM program, visit

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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North Dakota State University
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