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BYU-I Student heads to D.C to advocate for undergrad research funding

Advocating For Undergraduate Research Funding

REXBURG, Idaho - A senior at Brigham Young University Idaho will be heading to Washington D.C with his professor this week to advocate for more federal funding for undergraduate research.

Federal funding typically focuses more on graduate-level research than undergraduate.

Paul Powell, the student who will be heading to D.C has been doing research at the undergraduate level for three years. His work has also been published in the peer-review journal "analytical."

His hope now is to present his research at the "posters on The Hill" conference to encourage lawmakers that undergraduate research is a valuable place to invest.

Powell and his classmates are undergraduate researchers at the chemistry department at BYU-I.

"I feel really lucky to be involved in something like this," said Powell.

Powell said he wanted to go to medical school, but chemistry class changed all of that.

"A lot of people say they don't like chemistry because there is all these rules and random equations, that it's so rigid. They have to memorize stuff, but when you get into research, there is so much freedom and that's what makes it so exciting," said Powell.

The research the group is doing is not exactly revolutionary.

"It's definitely novel and meaningful in the scientific community," said Dr. David Collins, who has been mentoring the students.

The group is using a combination of techniques to separate chemical mixtures to better understand what's in them. They are combining a traditional separation technique with electric currents to better see the compounds of their mixtures.
"It is a faster, more efficient way to get the full picture of what our mixture was," said Powell.

"Their ability to understand science is greatly expanded, because instead of being told how science works, they discover how science works," said Collins.

"Yeah, I'm going to stick with chemistry," said Powell.

Powell plans to head to a Ph.D program as soon as he completes his bachelors at BYU-I.

The group said by representing Idaho and the university they hope their work will continue to promote teaching through research. They head to Washigton D.C Sunday.

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