Sovanndara (Dara) Hok (‘16) is a determined scientist who’s especially enthusiastic about physics and chemistry. In 2014, Chapman University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity selected Hok to participate in the SURF Fellowship program, a unique experience that offers undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue research and creative activity with the guidance of a full-time faculty mentor. The program is open to all disciplines and provides up to $3,000 in fellowship funding.
As part of the fellowship program, Sovanndara Hok spent much of the summer researching the application of gravitational potential onto the Schrodinger equation. “The ten-week research-intensive program is like a small snippet of what graduate life entails,” Hok said. “It gives you a good sense of [whether or not] this is the type of career you’d like to pursue because it provides an accurate picture of graduate life and research.”
Not only did the SURF program provide Hok with an accurate picture of graduate research, but he was also able to present his work at a variety of conferences, including the Schmid Conference and Chapman University’s Student Research Day. Furthermore, this month, Hok is presenting his research at the ACS National Conference in San Francisco and feels strongly that his experience in the SURF program helped prepare him for the upcoming experience. “The environment [of Student Research Day] was friendly and provided the opportunity to practice disseminating my research to a different type of audience, especially people in different disciplines who don’t necessarily know a lot about the sciences.”
Moreover, Hok found that working with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (OURCA) helped him develop myriad skills, especially grant writing. “The grant writing process is very important and sometimes understated,” Hok said. “[OURCA provides] a lot of feedback from your application and you [also] get a lot of feedback from the judges, which makes you a better writer. This is very important, especially in the sciences because grant proposal writing is major stepping stone.”
Working with OURCA and participating in the SURF program has had a lasting impact on Sovanndara Hok’s life and career, as he currently works as a research assistant at Chapman University. Moreover, he will attend graduate school next year. In fact, he has been accepted to a number of graduate programs, including Stanford University.
Do you want to apply for Chapman University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program or find out more about the OURCA Ambassador Program? Visit OURCA’s website for more information about the SURF program and other creative and scholarly activities on campus.