Underrepresented Students Complete Research Internship in Thailand

Undergraduate students participated in a research trip to Thailand.
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Undergraduate students participated in a research trip to Thailand.

Ten undergraduates from six universities, including the University of Arkansas, recently participated in a 10-week summer research experience alongside 10 undergraduates from Mahasarakham University and Chiang Mai University in Thailand.

The undergraduates were accompanied by two American faculty members — Ruben Michael Ceballos, assistant professor of biological sciences at the U of A, and Danielle Levesque, assistant professor of mammology at the University of Maine — and graduate students Atemnkeng Forwang and Ana Breit as well as four Thai university instructors.

The purpose of the trip was to engage faculty scientists from the United States and Thailand in student training and research that will lead to long-term collaborations, as well as provide undergraduates with meaningful international research opportunities.

The group was divided into four projects. The first research team studied antimicrobial properties of medicinal mushrooms from the Isan tribal regions of eastern Thailand, the second studied antioxidant properties of medicinal mushrooms, the third studied thermoregulatory physiology properties of small tropical mammals, and the fourth explored the biodiversity of cyanobacteria and other photosynthetic microorganisms in the region.

Four of the undergraduate researchers were from the U of A, while others came from institutions in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Funding for these international research experiences will continue through the summer of 2020. All student participants were provided with round-trip airfare, lodging, stipends and a meal plan.

The research program was funded by two National Science Foundation grants: a Research Experience for Undergraduates grant titled "REU Site: Indigenous America to Indigenous Mekong (Thailand/Vietnam) - Adventures in Biology and Biodiversity," and a Research Coordination Networks grant titled "RCN UBE: MIRC and MB Research Coordination - Food, Energy, Water, and Ecosystem Resources."

For more information about future research in the Mekong River Basin under the REU or RCN grants, contact Ceballos at ceballos@uark.edu.

Contacts

Michael Ceballos, assistant professor
Department of Biological Sciences
479-575-5643, ceballos@uark.edu

Bob Whitby, feature writer
University Relations
479-575-4737, whitby@uark.edu

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