Campus: CSU Fullerton -- June 15, 2005

Student Researchers Spending Summertime in the Laboratory

Ten college students have begun a summer of research in collaboration with Cal State Fullerton chemistry and biochemistry professors.

They are part of the National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has participated in the program for more than 25 years — a testament to the department’s focus on offering students hands-on undergraduate research experiences.

“We’re one of the few nondoctoral granting institutions that comes up on top in the competition to receive this funding,” says Maria Linder, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry who co-directs the annual summer program. NSF awards supporting the current program total $128,334. “It’s a competitive renewal, and we compete with major institutions for it.”

The program partners students — who come from Cal State Fullerton, as well as other educational institutions around the nation — with faculty members for individualized research guidance. Often the work results in published papers, as well as the excitement of making scientific discoveries.

“The program is designed to recruit students for careers in research and to allow them to see whether this is of interest to them,” says Linder. “We don’t have enough American students going into chemical sciences careers.

“Working in the laboratory and doing research is something that most undergraduates at other institutions don’t get to do much, except in the cookbook sense, and they don’t get to explore unknown questions,” Linder adds. “Our college is well-known for our undergraduate research emphasis.”

Last summer an REU student helped Linder find a new blood enzyme that oxidizes iron. “This is a significant finding, and the research continues, but she was able to participate in a groundbreaking discovery,” says the professor, who has received the university’s top faculty honor, the Outstanding Professor Award.

“Each of us is building on past research,” says Peter de Lijser, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry who has participated in the REU summer program for six years. “The work that’s accomplished by the REU students is like a shot in the arm in terms of progress.”

This year, Cal State Fullerton students Jennie Kittipha of Garden Grove and Kira Lindwall of Yorba Linda, both senior biochemistry majors, were among the 10 students selected from more than 260 applicants, according to Mark Filowitz, co-director of the REU program and lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry. Fellow Titan and senior biochemistry major Anh Nguyen of Monterey Park, will participate in the program as the winner of the Nagel Scholarship. (The scholarship is named for the late Glenn M. Nagel, emeritus professor of chemistry, who launched the campus REU program in the 1970s.)

Other students taking part in the program hail from the University of Puget Sound, UC Davis, Syracuse University, University of Florida, Dickinson College, Sierra College, St. John’s University, College of Wooster and Fullerton College.

Participating faculty members mentor the REU students, who co-author journal papers and gain research experience as they prepare for graduate school.

“Recognition for your work is very rewarding, both for the faculty and the students,” says de Lijser. “Especially when the scientific community respects what you do.”

Media Contacts:
Maria Linder, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, at (714) 278-2472 or

Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs at (714) 278-4852 or

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