WCU student-athlete selected for International Research Experiences for Students program

WCU junior Laney Browder will continue her research on nanoparticles this summer in Singapore.

WCU junior Laney Browder will continue her research on nanoparticles this summer in Singapore.

Western Carolina University junior Laney Browder is one of 16 students from the U.S. to be selected by the American Chemical Society to participate in its International Research Experiences for Students program.

Browder and two others will spend their summer doing research at the National University of Singapore.

As member of WCU’s cross country and track and field teams, Browder spends a lot of her time practicing and competing. As a chemistry major who also is going for a minor in biology, Browder also spends countless hours in the laboratory, which is why Channa De Silva, an assistant professor in the department of chemistry and physics, had nothing but high praises for her.

“She’s one of the best students in our program, especially with her doing cross country and track and field,” De Silva said. “With that and doing chemistry research on top of classes, that’s a really big deal. I consider her like a role model for other students because I don’t know how she does that with practices and everything.”

After applying for the research program, Browder didn’t think she would be chosen. She was elated to learn she will be in Singapore from June 6 to August 12.

“I have always wanted to go and study in a different culture,” she said. “To hear that I got this opportunity was just kind of mind-boggling because I didn’t think I was actually going to get it when I applied for it. It’s exciting and the research that I’ll be doing is nanoparticle research, which is kind of similar to what I do here at Western.”

Browder will present her work this fall at the ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Philadelphia.

“I would love to be able to be exposed to a new culture, a new environment because I haven’t really had that experience before,” Browder said. “I also hope that I get some experience working in a lab that’s maybe different than ours, and doing some research that I’m really passionate about. I hope to learn more about inorganic chemistry through this internship, too. This will hopefully prepare me for graduate school.”

De Silva said the National University of Singapore is one of the top chemistry schools in the world. He said Browder’s experience will be beneficial to WCU.

“That experience will help us here at Western Carolina improve our research because she’s going to bring back some of those research skills,” De Silva said. “We have certain instrumentation and techniques that we use here, but that university is so high-end. They may have more cutting-edge instrumentation and scientific techniques so she will be exposed to some of those as part of her training. That’s important to her future.”

Last summer, Browder participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates program sponsored by the National Science Foundation at the University of Tennessee. She also presented her research at the ACS regional meeting last November, as well as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research earlier this month.