Research Opportunities

Our faculty are engaged in research that depends upon the participation of students and we actively encourage students at all academic levels to become involved. Studies during the past decade show that students with undergraduate research experience are more likely to be accepted by and do well in graduate and professional schools across the nation. The opportunities for such research experience are much greater at UVa-Wise because of our faculty to student ratio. We believe it is one of our greatest assets.

We have members of the department working on slime molds, tropical plant extracts, transcription factors, reptiles and amphibians, molluscs, environmental geochemistry of mining, and more. We use both traditional and modern techniques to answer questions and have state-of-the-art equipment at our disposal. Please contact us as early as possible in your UVa-Wise career so that you may choose a project that works on questions of interest to you.

Much of our research occurs in the summers and students interested in working with us during this time can apply for a Fellowship In the Natural Sciences (FINS). The FINS program is both highly competitive and rewarding, allowing students to work with individual faculty throughout the summer.


Undergraduate Research Experiences at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Fellowship in the Natural Sciences (FINS) provides research opportunities to students during their college careers. Students gain practical experience in modern scientific research techniques by pursuing answers to contemporary questions under the direction of a member of the natural sciences faculty. Faculty sponsors serve as mentors, role models, and advisors. Individual projects support the goals of a research program that is of high scientific merit yet are appropriate for undergraduate research. Successful applicants are encouraged to submit a proposal for graduation “With Research Honors” in the respective field of study.

FINS Research Fellows will:

  • receive a $3,000 student stipend for the ten (10) week period;
  • spend approximately forty (40) hours per week on their research or diabetes projects during the period of their fellowship;
  • present the findings of their research during a FINS Symposium

Successful student applicants will:

  • have completed at least one year of undergraduate science coursework;
  • be students in good standing at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise;
  • be highly motivated to participate in ongoing research projects and demonstrate the potential for success in scientific research and related experiences; and
  • have demonstrated a high degree of academic achievement.

To apply, submit the following materials to the Science Center Office

  • completed FINS application form (available in Science Center office or click for the Application Form)
  • statement describing your academic background, scientific interests, suitability for field or laboratory experiences, and past research experiences
  • statement explaining how the chosen fellowship experience will help you pursue your career goals
  • one official copy of your academic transcript
  • two letters of recommendation from professors who can assess your scientific and intellectual abilities, previous training and experience, and potential for a career in research (at least one must be from a non-sponsoring professor)
  • a research proposal (maximum five pages for project description)

Send application materials to:

FINS Program
Department of Natural Sciences
University of Virginia’s College at Wise
Wise, VA 24293

Previous FINS Research


“Binuclear Manganese and Iron Carbon Monoxide-Releasing Molecules Containing Ferrocene Thiosemicarbazones.” Madelyn Lawrence / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“An Investigation of Mononuclear and Trinuclear Analogs of CORM-1 and CORM-2 complexes with Thiosemicarbazone and Triazine Ligands.” Hannah Daniels / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“Chalcones as a ligand motif in the synthesis of organometallic piano-stool ruthenium complexes.” Jared Lentchner / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“Organometallic Toxicity Analysis.” Olivia Fast / Faculty Mentor Steven Shell, Ph.D.

“Microbial Presence on Produce.” Jonathan McNew / Faculty Mentor Robin Woodard, Ph.D.

“Documenting the Diversity of Fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) At High Knob and Predicting Peak Mating Times of the Synchronous Firefly (Photinus carolinus).” Bailey Anderson / Faculty Mentors Josephine Rodriguez, Ph.D. and Walter Smith, Ph.D.

“A Survey of the Tick (Acari: Ixodida) Species in Wise County and Identification of Vertebrate Hosts Using Blood Meal Analysis.” Spencer Stockard / Faculty Mentor Josephine Rodriguez, Ph.D.

“A Survey of Medically Important Microbes in Ixodes and Dermacentor Ticks in Wise County Virginia.” Katie Woodburn / Faculty Mentor Robin Woodard, Ph.D.

“Environment of Panel Cave, Va. Surveying the Abiotic Features of Panel Cave.“ Dylan Richardson / Faculty Mentor Prof. VanGundy

“Comparative Study of Mira Class Variable Stars.” Jesse Harris / Faculty Mentor Lucian Undreiu, Ph.D.


“Synthesis and Characterization of Ruthenium and Manganese CORM complexes with Thiosemicarbazone Ligands.” Hannah Daniels / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.


“Polynuclear Inorganic and Organometallic Complexes of Ruthenium.” Madison Niece / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.


“Synthesis, Characterization, and Biophysical Activity of Half Sandwich Ruthenium Complexes Containing Ferrocene Curcuminoids.” Kelsey Webb / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“A study of Ruthenium(II) Polypyridyl Complexes.” Daria Blach / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“The investigation of zinc and vanadium complexes of curcuminoids as potential insulin-mimetics and anti-diabetics.” Bailey Helbert / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“Heavy metal capture in metal-organic frameworks.” Caleb Fast / Faculty Mentor Trevor Makal, Ph.D.


“Copper Complexes Containing Biological Ligands.” Kelsey Webb / Faculty Mentor Floyd Beckford, Ph.D.

“Microwave Spectra of 9-Fluorenone and Benzophenone.“ Channing West / Faculty Mentor Galen Sedo, Ph.D.

“Heavy metal capture in metal-organic frameworks using HSAB.” Dalton Robinson / Faculty Mentor Trevor Makal, Ph.D.

“Stepwise synthesis of metal-organic frameworks.” Mark Mullins / Faculty Mentor Trevor Makal, Ph.D.

“Core-shell crystal design in metal-organic frameworks.” Derek Torres / Faculty Mentor Trevor Makal, Ph.D.