Mercer Cluster

Students spend their summer in labs, classrooms and working in the community

Jayla Moody, Contributing Writer

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Peru, South Africa, North Carolina, St. Louis and Macon.

These are just a few of the places Mercer students spent their summers. They’re all majoring and minoring in different subjects, but they were all doing the same thing during their time off: research.

CLUSTER Timothy Lewis aPhoto courtesy of Timothy Lewis

Timothy Lewis

Lewis is a senior law and public policy major with a Christianity minor. He works on the Student Admissions Team, is a Mercer Maniac, a peer advisor, a Mercer Ambassador and a member of SGA. But this summer, Lewis wore a different hat.

He worked with political science professor Chris Grant using a Research that Reaches Out grant to look at strategies being used to educate low income students in Bibb County.

There were two main parts of the research.

“One was a literature review of innovative strategies being used across the country of some of the challenges these students face from a developmental stand point,” he said. “The other side of that was interviews.”

Lewis did a 20-question interview with teachers, administrators, board members and the superintendent of Bibb County.

After understanding some of these challenges opposed to the challenges of more affluent students, Lewis and Grant wanted to see what they could do about it.

“Hopefully in the rest of the semester, we’ll really be working on talking with some schools [and say] hey, is this something you’d be interested in looking more into?”

Lewis hopes to take his research all the way to the school board.


CLUSTER Arbaz Momin aPhoto courtesy of Arbaz Momin

Arbaz Momin

Senior Arbaz Momin, a biochemistry and molecular biology major with a psychology minor, is currently interviewing for medical school. He’s a member of the Muslim Student Association, a science tutor and a teaching assistant.

Momin spent his summer at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine finding ways to replace and regenerate stem cells.

“I applied to about seven research internship programs. This research program had an acceptance rate of 4 percent,” Momin said.

He reprogrammed white blood cells into stem cells and collaborated on projects in a facility that prints skin on a 3-D printer and recellurizes animal organs to be used for humans.

“It’s quite sci-fi in a sense,” he said.

Momin said chemistry professor Garland Crawford and Richard McCann at the medical school are very supportive in his research.

“I’ve applied to the [Wake Forest School of Medicine] and I’m waiting to hear back from them,” Momin said. “It’d be a nice place to live.”


CLUSTER Jasmine Render aPhoto courtesy of Jasmine Render

Jasmine Render

Junior service scholar Jasmine Render didn’t just go on one Mercer on Mission trip, but two. Render is a women and gender studies major with a double minor in biology and chemistry. She spent her summer in Peru and South Africa.

In South Africa, Mercer students taught anti-bullying activities and debate skills.

While she was there, Render did a research paper on one of her many interests, how HIV affects women.

Jasmine studied how susceptible South African women are to HIV because of societial structure. She wants to continue researching the topic for her senior service project.

“Instead of focusing on women in South Africa, I want to focus on women in the United States. Particularly I would like to focus on Macon,” Render said. “I think it’d be really cool to figure out what the issue is here in Macon and try to solve it.”

In Peru, the 2018 Mercer Service Scholars worked with The Fuller Center for Housing building homes for people that can’t afford them on their own. At the end of their trip, the students dedicated four homes.

“It’s just amazing to see the joy on their face after they lived so long without [a home],” she said.

Jasmine said women and gender studies professor Natalie Bordon has always been there for guidance and help ever since she started her class.

“She also told me about a research conference [I can apply] for in the spring, so I really want to present for that,” Render said. “She already told me she’s going to help me get my research together.”


CLUSTER Joey Allen aPhoto courtesy of Joey Allen

Joey Allen

Joey Allen is a computer science major who spent his summer at Washington University working on the Looking Glass Project.

Looking Glass is a programming environment geared towards teaching middle school-aged kids how to program. He worked on developing a system that tracks progress through a series of code puzzles.

“I had actually followed this research team for a while, so when I got the email I cancelled every other application I sent out and accepted immediately,” he said.

Allen said the entire computer science faculty have been resources for him.

“[I’m] obviously inspired a lot by Dr. [Bob] Allen (my father) and Dr. Andy Digh, who has always motivated me to chase my dreams without hesitation.”

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Students spend their summer in labs, classrooms and working in the community