SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The fourth annual SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), a collaborative project of the membership of the Southern Conference, is scheduled this weekend – Saturday, Nov. 2, and Sunday, Nov. 3 – on Wofford College’s campus.

Students from 10 institutions in the Southern Conference will participate in the conference, which will be held in the Roger Milliken Science Center; it is free and open to the public. The forum is sponsored by Milliken and Co.

SURF was created in partnership with the SoCon Academic Exchange Program, an educational program that encourages academic collaboration and opportunities for students and faculty within Southern Conference institutions. SURF provides platform for students to present their summer research projects in STEM disciplines as well as the humanities. The event is geared toward students who may not have experience in presenting their research.

Dr. Ramón Galiñanes Jr., Wofford’s director of undergraduate research and coordinator of the SURF conference, says SURF is a valuable academic opportunity for Wofford students and it “connects students in the Southern Conference in ways beyond the athletic field.”

This year, 13 Wofford students will present at SURF. The conference also will feature a SURF Alumni Panel for the first time, which will include Catie Cronister, a Wofford senior biology and mathematics major who presented at SURF last year, and Rebecca McGregor, class of 2017, who received degrees in Spanish and psychology.

Since SURF began in 2016, Wofford has served as the forum’s host each year.

“SURF inspires a culture of research on Wofford’s campus,” Galiñanes says, adding that the number of Wofford students participating in research projects and in SURF has grown steadily since the formation of the conference.

“SURF has been extremely well received by not only our presidents, chancellors and faculty, but by the students themselves,” former Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino says. “The quality of the research projects has been truly impressive. We’ve heard the comments from many participants that this was their first real research presentation, and they appreciated the opportunity to make it in front of fellow students and faculty from other conference members in a low-pressure environment.”

The event has been consistently well attended. There were 99 participants in 2016, 122 in 2017 and 111 in 2018. Each member institution may send as many as 15 students. All attendees receive a gift bag from the Southern Conference and have an opportunity to enjoy a dinner in Spartanburg with their classmates and attending professors. Breakfast and lunch are provided by the conference through its corporate partnership with Ingles Markets.

Wofford College students and faculty participating in the SURF conference:

Antibiotic Resistance of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
Presenter – Ethan J. DiBlasio, sophomore, chemistry major, Moore, S.C.
Co-author(s) – Peyton Godwin, junior, biology and German major, Raleigh, N.C.; Marcus Stallings, senior, biology and Spanish major, Fort Mill, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Tracie Ivey

Out of School Time for Latinex Youth in Spartanburg, S.C.
Presenter – Sandra Lopez, sophomore, finance major with studio arts minor, Enoree, S.C.
Co-author(s) – Hector Ortiz, junior, biology and Spanish major, Saluda, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Laura Barbas Rhoden

Ebola virus secreted glycoprotein (sGP) enhances maturation of dendritic cells
Presenter – Emily K. Moore, sophomore, biology and computer science major, Inman, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Stefanie Baker

Understanding Kindergarten Readiness Data – Forest Park
Presenter – Jay. B. Stevens, junior, finance and Spanish major, Spartanburg, S.C.
Co-author(s) – Mayra Lomeli-Garcia, junior, psychology major, North Charleston, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Christine S. Dinkins

Understanding Kindergarten Readiness Data – Highlands
Presenter – Naya Taylor, junior, biology and Spanish major, Boiling Springs, S.C.
Co-author(s) – Mariana Gonzalez-Perez, junior, psychology major, Hickory, N.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Christine S. Dinkins

An Evolutionary Arms Race – Screening for anti-CRISPR factors in streptococcus thermophilus
Presenter – Raven Tucker, junior, biology and studio arts major, Ridgeway, S.C.

Housing the Community or Tourists: Processes of Gentrification in Galveston Post-Hurricane Ike
Presenter – Hana Barazi, junior, sociology and anthropology major, Hendersonville, N.C.

Event Related Potential Study Discerning the Processing of Emotional and Neutral Stimuli
Co-author(s) – Maddie Schutte, junior, chemistry major, Sullivan’s Island, S.C.; Jenna Vroman, senior, biology and Spanish major, Daniel Island, S.C.; Haiden Lancaster, senior, psychology major and art history minor, Spartanburg, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Katherine Steinmetz

Child Dietary Preferences: Understanding the Connection Between Cultural Awareness and Child Obesity Rate in Spartanburg, S.C.
Presenter – Laurel A. Lee, senior, humanities and Spanish major with concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Jacksonville, Fla.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Laura Barbas Rhoden

Natural Food Additive Blocks Bitter Taste Receptors
Faculty sponsor – Dr. David Pittman

Antibiotic Resistance in Probiotics
Presenter – Marcus G. Stallings, senior, biology and Spanish major, Fort Mill, S.C.
Co-author(s) – Peyton Godwin, junior, biology and German major, Raleigh, N.C.; Ethan J. DiBlasio, sophomore, chemistry major, Moore, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Tracie Ivy

Molecular Characteristics of Secondary Organic Aerosols by Mass Spectrometry
Presenter – Savannah Talledo, junior chemistry and theatre major, Spartanburg, S.C.
Faculty sponsor – Dr. Murray V. Johnston (University of Delaware)