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Fall 2022 opportunities

MURALS First Year Scholars Academy is a mentor program that connects first year students interested in applied and basic research and scholarly activity to faculty mentors that could assist in scaffolding research opportunities.

Faculty Guides provide active mentorship within a student’s area of discipline, and mentor students through all aspects of the research/scholarly activity process, including: Design of activities, nurturing proper techniques, data collection and analysis, reporting, publication and presentation of research findings.

You do NOT have to sign up based on your major – area of interest is encouraged as a choice as well!!

Selection will begin on a rolling bases…deadline to apply to a MURALS fys Academy is September 6th NOON

College of Agriculture Sciences

Faculty Guide: Terry Engle, PhD

Department: Animal Sciences

Project Details: Our research will examine the influence of various nutrients on rumen fermentation and immunity in beef cattle.

Requirements: Willingness to learn, strong work ethic, willingness to work with beef cattle, and willingness to work in the laboratory.

Number of Students on the Team: 5

Learn more about Dr. Engle and his research  

College of Business

Faculty Guide: Patrice Palmer

Department: Dean’s Office

Project Details: The College of Business diversity audit will assist in understanding the demographics and culture of the college in an effort to identify the specific factors that will help create a diverse and inclusive space.

The diversity audits bring together data collection and analysis with student, staff and faculty consultation. This provides a holistic view of the college in terms of justice, diversity, equality, and inclusion, allowing the creation of honed diversity strategies that deliver targeted benefits to the college.

Number of Students on the Team: 4

Learn more about Patrice and their research –

College of Health and Human Sciences

Faculty Guide: Neomi Vin-Raviv, MPH, PhD
Asst Professor

Department: School of Social Work

Project Details: Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring: I have experiences in teaching undergraduate research courses within the social work program and mentoring BSW students. Below are select examples from student’s projects from the undergraduate class Research in Applied Professions SOWK300:

  • Personal Experience as First-Generation College Students of Color attending at Colorado State University
  • Accommodations use among students with disability at Colorado State University
  • CSU students’ awareness and utilization of supportive services and resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning (LGBTQ) on CSU’s campus
  • CSU undergrad students perceptions of minority discrimination on campus
  • Evaluating undergraduate student’s challenges in the learning environment during the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Evaluating the financial stress of undergraduate student’s during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In addition, I have had the opportunity to mentor undergraduate students through the Multicultural Undergraduate Research Art and Leadership Symposium (MURALS). I have nominated and mentored two students to MURALS.

  • The effects of a peer-led support group on stress levels among students of color at a predominately White institution.
  • Assessing the effects of guided self-help cognitive behavioral therapy on ex-service members living with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Requirements: Commitment to the process

Number of Students on the Team: 3

Faculty Guide: Michelle Foster, PhD
Assoc Professor & Asst Dean for DEI

Department: Food Science and Human Nutrition

Project Details:As a PhD STEM research scientist in a laboratory, I decided to become a university administrator, specifically an Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice in the College of Health and Human Science because I wanted to play a role in ensuring that college be equally available to all. As I navigated my way through a scientific career, it became clear that higher education is still confronted with perpetual structural racism. Indeed, it is well-documented that higher education has an equity gap problem. This refers to disparities in educational outcomes and student success metrics across race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, physical or mental abilities, and other demographic traits and intersectionalities. These gaps often signal current practices and procedures are not effectively supporting all student groups. Adaptability is needed to allow institutions to innovate to your changing needs as students. You are the stakeholders of CSU and your voice matters. This research project is an exploration, within your specific major, of how equitable practices can be implemented to enhance a sense of belonging and success in your college journey. Examples of exploration areas in equitable practices within universities include, but are not limited to, policy evaluation, course curriculum/subject/objectives, scholarship requirements, school clubs, mentoring programs, community connections, tutoring, and/or multi-disciplinary methods of teaching. Within these projects a need will be assessed, a plan will be developed with possible help for execution if you are interested.

Requirements: no requirements.

Number of Students on the Team: 5

Learn more about Dr. Foster and her research here:

College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Guide: Albert Bimper, PhD
Assoc Professor / Asst Vice President / Sr. Assoc Athletics Director

Department: Ethnic Studies & Sport Management

Project Details:

NCAA approved new legislation, known as Name-Image-Likeness, that allows all NCAA D1, D2 and D3 student athletes to be compensated for their NIL as of July 1, 2021. This project ask students to develop future research questions that examine the nuanced intersections of this new legislation with the experiences of student athletes in intercollegiate athletics. Students may have the flexibility to explore a number of related issues such as academic development, identity development, personal branding, enrollment and institutional transfer issues, or mental health/wellness of student athletes.

Requirements: no requirements

Number of Students on the Team: 3

Learn more about Dr. Bimper and his research here –

Faculty Guide: Jessica Jackson, PhD
Asst Professor & RISE Center Affiliate

Department: History

Project Details:

On July 3, 1893, Italian-born Daniele Arata, saloon and hotel owner, was hanged by a “spectacle-style” lynch mob of thousands in Denver, Colorado. Two years later, in March of 1895, three Italian miners, Stanislao Vittone, Francesco Ronchietto, and Lorenzo Andinino, were lynched in Walsenburg, Colorado by “masked” vigilantes. More than twenty residents of Mexican-descent were lynched across the state of Colorado between 1873 and 1888, while Quan Lee, a Chinese immigrant, was lynched in Ouray, Colorado, in August of 1891. What impelled such violent vigilantism? How was language manipulated to justify such lethal nativism? And, when faced with such a racialized form of violence, how did immigrant communities respond? Ultimately, what do these moments reveal about how identity, race, citizenship (and even subjecthood) operated in the legal borderlands of late-19th/early-20th century Colorado? Moreover, how do the legacies of violence impact descendant communities and family histories today?


This project, which involves archival research, genealogical research, and conducting oral histories, is a history of immigration—of racialized violence and inter-ethnic collaboration—in Colorado, focusing on the 1870s-1920s. The goal of this research is to recover the history of Colorado’s immigrant past (especially focused on Mexican, Chinese, and Italian immigrants), in order better inform local conversations on immigration. Additionally, in personalizing and humanizing this history, what can oral histories reveal about how the legacies of anti-immigrant lynching violence impact descendants today?

Requirements: no requirements

Number of Students on the Team: 3

College of Natural Sciences

Faculty Guide: Kristen Ruegg, PhD
Asst Professor

Department: Biology

Project Details: The research in my lab is focused on using genomic tools to understand how bird populations are connected across their breeding and wintering grounds and to understand how they may or may not be able to adapt in the face of climate change. Student research projects will involve some aspect of this overall research goal, but I would work with each student to understand the projects they are most interested in. In addition to learning the process of project design, implementation and presentation of results, the students will learn basic molecular laboratory skills including, DNA extraction, PCR, and data analysis.

Requirements: Enthusiasm, interest in conservation, climate change, and migratory birds and strong organizational skills

Number of Students on the Team: 2

Learn more about Dr. Ruegg and her research here:

Faculty Guide: Indrakshi Ray, PhD

Department: Computer Science

Project Details: Cyber security plays a critical role in modern day society.

We have several ongoing projects: misinformation detection, IoT security, phishing detection. Students will work with a mentor and help in various capacities: labeling data and finding relevant literature, synthesizing what research has been done. Be a part of

Requirements: Responsive and show up!  Must be enthusiastic and eager to learn

Number of Students on the Team: 5

Learn more about Dr. Ray and her research:

Faculty Guide: Carlos Olivo, PhD
Asst Professor

Department: Chemistry

Project Details: There are 14 natural areas in Fort Collins where fishing is permitted. As most of them are very close to new construction developments while the city expands rapidly due to increasing housing demands, these areas may be affected by anthropogenic pollution. The purpose of this project is to asses the water quality in these natural areas by creating a monitoring plan that tests pH, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, chromium, iron, phosphates, chlorine, ammonia, nitrates, and detergents concentrations over a period of time. YSI and Hach water testing systems will be used in this research, and literature review of the current status of these natural areas, including cluster analysis, will be conducted. Students will work in teams to collect data, analyze it, and present it at the Colorado State University MURALS conference in 2023.

Requirements: Interest in water science, motivation, time management, and responsibility. Field experience is required in this research so team members are expected to travel to natural sites to collect samples and analyze them in situ.

Number of Students on the Team: 4

Learn more about Dr. Olivio and his research here:

Faculty Guide: Justin Sambur, PhD
Asst Professor

Department: Chemistry

Project Details: You will synthesize nanocrystals, excite them with light, and study how energy flows from the nanocrystal to acceptor molecules using a fluorescence spectrometer. You do not need any prior training to perform this research – just a positive attitude!

Requirements: Any physical science class would be helpful (e.g., chemistry, math).

Number of Students on the Team: 2

Learn more about Dr. Sambur and his research here:

Faculty Guide: Shane Kanatous, PhD

Department: Biology

Project Details: Our lab investigates the unique abilities of marine mammals to exercise while holding their breath.

Requirements: Strong work ethic

Number of Students on the Team: 2

Faculty Guide: Aramati Casper, PhD
Research Scientist Scholar II

Department: Biology

Project Details: The diversity that exists within biology is practically unfathomable, yet what we teach is often limited by narrow assumptions of what is “normal” and what is an “exception.” Join me, Dr. Aramati Casper, to investigate how students responded to revised inclusive and queered course material in an introductory plant biology class. First Year Scholars (FYS) who join me in this research can work on two related projects focused on making science more inclusive: an analysis of student responses to inclusive science course and a critical literature review on the experiences of queer people in science. In the course material analysis FYS will work with me to pick a revised topic from plant biology to analyze, such as how sex is not a binary trait or how societal assumptions about sex and gender influence the biological theory of sexual selection. Additionally, FYS can optionally join a multi-university research team performing the first-ever critical literature review of the existing research on the environment for queer students and professionals in science. FYS will be co-authors on a peer-reviewed journal article from the course content analysis and, if they participate in it, the literature review. Both will be submitted later in 2022. FYS involved in this research will develop skills in reading peer-reviewed literature, critical thinking, analyzing written text (qualitative data analysis), and science communication About me: I am a queer forest ecologist and science education researcher. I’m excited to collaborate with FYS on my work at the intersection of natural and social sciences!

Requirements: No specific prerequisites, except for an excitement and willingness to learn about reading peer-reviewed literature and learning how to analyze written text within the context of education research. Students who are interested in inclusive biology practices and/or teaching and whose interests span biology, social science, and/or education are particularly encouraged to join this project!

Number of Students on the Team: 4

College of Veterinary Medicine Biomedical Sciences

Faculty Guide: Mary Jackson, PhD

Department: Microbiology, Immunology

Project Details: We have several projects related to the neglected tropical disease leprosy. The students will learn molecular technics to identify the leprosy agents in clinical samples and characterize drug susceptibility of the bacterial strains. 

Requirements: Eager to work in a laboratory setting, enthusiasm for science, punctuality, meticulous

Walter Scott Jr., College of Engineering

Faculty Guide: Christopher Snow, PhD
Assoc Professor

Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering

Project Details: When biomolecules like proteins and DNA are purified, concentrated, and put into exactly the right solution (pH, salt, polymers), these biomolecules can self-assemble into crystals. The resulting highly organized biomaterials are fragile until a crosslinking chemical agent is added, causing the constituent biomolecules to form covalent bonds with their neighbors. The Snow lab is interested in training undergraduate researchers to (1) setup classical crystal growth experiments including preparation of specific buffers, (2) inspect and understand 3D models of proteins, DNA, and biomolecular crystals in the program PyMOL, (3) design crystals that are composed of both protein and modified DNA building blocks, (4) attempt to grow crystals composed of protein and the novel designed DNA building blocks. In the likely event that crystals grow, students will also have the opportunity to observe how the crystals can be shot with X-rays to collect the X-ray diffraction data that can be used to determine the detailed atomic structure that is repeated throughout the crystals


1. A good recollection of pH and salts from high-school Chemistry
2. The ability to install PyMOL (free for academic use) on a personal computer OR the ability to access PyMOL via College of Engineering computer labs

Number of Students on the Team: 4

Learn more about Dr. Snow and his research here:

Faculty Guide: Mostafa Yourdkhani, PhD
Professor Emeritus

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Project Details: In our research group, we work on advanced manufacturing and additive manufacturing of fiber-reinforced polymer composites. The goal of this project is to use our recently developed polymer resin to manufacture composite panels using chopped carbon fibers. Unlike traditional composite manufacturing methods, our technology leads to rapid and energy-efficient manufacturing of composites with minimal carbon emission. To make composites, we will first design and fabricate simple molds using traditional methods or 3D printing techniques. The molds are filled with carbon fibers and resin and then the polymerization/curing reaction is initiated by a local heat source. The fabrication rate and quality of produced composite panels are measured using various methods and devices such as infrared thermal imaging, thermocouples, mechanical tests, and optical microscopy. The effect of carbon fibers on the manufacturing process and final part quality are compared with polymer panels produced by a similar process.


  • Major in engineering or science (chemistry, physics, computer science).
  • Interest in working in a lab environment and working with fibers and chemicals.
  • Ability to perform simple experiments as part of a team.
  • Follow safety rules and guidelines in the laboratory.

Number of Students on the Team: 2

Warner College of Natural Resources

Faculty Guide: Thomas Seth Davis, PhD
Asst Professor

Department: Forest & Rangeland Stewardship

Project Details: We will study factors related to the ecology of wild bees in Colorado. Students will have the opportunity to work on a variety of potential projects, including those related to entomology, ecology, microbiology, and analytical chemistry.

Requirements: A willingness to learn new skills and collaborate with graduate students

Number of Students on the Team: 3

Learn more about Dr. Davis and his research:

Faculty Guide: Lise Aubry, PhD Asst Professor

Department: Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Project Details: We are measuring changes in the life history and demography of hibernating species in response to warming and drying conditions at high elevations. We are specifically interested in trade-offs between immunocompetence, growth, reproduction and survival and how such life history decisions vary across elevation/climate niches within the context of climate change. Ultimately, we hope to predict the ability of hibernators to respond to climate change in the Western US by estimating heritable and plastic variance in life history traits through the establishment of a detailed pedigree.

Requirements: The student should have a kin interest in data collection and analysis, writing, and verbal communication to better serve the conservation of vulnerable species threatened by climate change.

Number of Students on the Team: 1

Learn more about Dr. Aubry and her research:

Faculty Guide: Ed Hall, PhD Asst Professor

Department: Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Project Details: I’m an microbial and ecosystem ecologists working in mostly aquatic habitats. Lots of possibilities for a project under the broad umbrella

Requirements: Fluency in writing and communication, internal motivation, punctuality and responsibility

Number of Students on the Team: 2

Learn more about Dr. Hall and his research:

Apply NOW