SURF fellow Ana Kalyta

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (OURCA) has some amazing funding opportunities for Chapman students. Yes, that’s right—money to support great student ideas and ambitions!

OURCA’s most intensive and comprehensive program is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), which supports a group of undergraduate students who are pursuing individual research and creative activity in conjunction with full-time faculty mentors. Fellows are paid for ten weeks of work with their mentors. The ambitious fellows also gather twice every week for ten weeks of professional development workshops and faculty research seminars.

The topics of research and creative activity run the gamut of student interest and faculty expertise, from neurobiology to art history to dramaturgy. Ana Kalyta, ’18, is a biochemistry major, who worked with Dr. William Wright on her project, “Connecting the Behavioral & Physiological Responses to Heat Stress.”session19-06

Ana first met Dr. Wright in her first year at Chapman University and was mesmerized by the science happening on in his marine invertebrate lab. She’d always been interested in both biology and chemistry, so biochemistry was a great interdisciplinary major, and the lab mirrored those interests. When a senior researcher left, Wright asked Ana to take over a project.

This past summer, she sought to understand what will happen to invertebrates as a result of climate change. Using hermit crabs, Ana tested their protein expressions when exposed to heat stress to see whether those proteins would be made at higher levels. Under normal conditions, these proteins aren’t very active. Ana wanted to find out if the crabs can adapt to the heat by creating more of the proteins that could protect them in warmer conditions.

session19-12Originally from Vancouver, Ana enjoys spending time at the beach when she’s not busy in the lab. Of course, the tide pools and all their denizens are a huge draw for the biochemistry major. She plans to stay involved with research throughout the rest of her undergraduate career, and into medical school. Ana said one of the best thing about SURF was the opportunity to focus almost entirely on research during summer and to keep it the priority. It’s not all work and no rest for a SURF fellow, so she also fit her yoga practice into her summer.

In addition to the ample time to study her field of expertise, Ana said she was surprised how much she enjoyed the faculty meetings focused on the arts, particularly art history and theater.
One of the unique aspects of SURF is the intermixing and cross-pollination of disciplines. Students sometimes become so focused on their majors or a particular path that they aren’t aware of all the ideas that might spark their interests and ambitions. OURCA works to support existing interests and also create the unexpected spark in students’ minds.

OURCA encourages students to disseminate their research and creative activity, and Ana has been seeking publication of her findings in scientific journals. After working with her, OURCA knows she’s going on to do great things. If you’re a student like Ana, with strong interests or a specific project, head over to OURCA’s site to see all of our funding opportunities!