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Corey Calhoun '15

Student Researcher Wins REU

Don't let Corey Calhoun's friendly, easy-going manner fool you. He's an ambitious and accomplished student who was recently awarded a research opportunity for undergraduates (REU) at Michigan State University this summer - a highly competitive award funded through the National Science Foundation.

Corey grew up in Long Beach, Calif., about as far west as you can get from GMC in the continental U.S. "It seemed like lots of my friends kind of got stuck at the local university after they graduated," said Corey. "I was looking for a different environment."

He found out about GMC through an internet college search and touched base with a GMC admissions rep who visited his high school. He liked what he heard about the small classes and close community, and a few months later found himself flying east to start classes. Another GMC student joined him on the flight to Rutland.

It was his first trip to Vermont.

"I remember a really friendly driver met us in Rutland and drove us in to campus. We got on Route 4, and after a while I was asking myself 'Where is this man taking us?'"

Vermont's rural landscape took some getting used to, but Corey fit right in at GMC. He started off studying biology and volunteered to do lab research. Then he took Dr. Jennifer Sellers' intro to psych course and became interested in her research in social neuroendocrinology -- the study of how situations and hormones play a role in human behavior.

"Jen offered me the position of undergrad research assistant," Corey said. "It was great to team up with her and be a part of actual research studies."

In a recent project, they collaborated with researchers at Middlebury College to explore links between meditation and some of the more "social" hormones. The hypothesis, Corey explained, was that people who practice meditation might perform better on challenging exams because they may be less likely to release hormones that cause them to become physiologically aroused. They can enjoy the tests for the challenge they are, and not see them as something threatening.

Corey wants to pursue studies in neuroscience after he graduates from GMC, and Jen helped him get his applications together for REU's .

"These are extraordinarily rewarding experiences for students because they get to see what it is like to be a graduate student," she said. "And while it is true that it's important to have this type of experience on your resume to pursue graduate education, research is also a lot of fun. Corey is going to have a blast!"

Corey will travel to East Lansing this summer for an intensive ten-week research experience, after which he will present his work at a college-wide symposium.

"Getting into a Ph.D program is definitely on my 'to do' list," Corey said. "I really think this summer will give me a big boost in that direction."

Kevin Coburn

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