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CoSTEM Govs set for Summer 2024 European tour

By: Colby Wilson May 7, 2024


Photo: APSU student and Barry Goldwater Scholarship winner Yuriy Holovchak works in a research lab in France during the summer of 2023 as part of the International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) Grant Program.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Seven Austin Peay State University students from the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will embark next week on an annual summer trek from Clarksville to Europe as part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) IRES Grant Program.

The International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program provides high-quality education and professional development activities for STEM students through NSF-funded research opportunities. Its goal is to build a diverse, globally engaged workforce with world-class skills.


Photo: APSU students Ariana Lovings, Hyeok Kim and Jordan Spencer during their summer trip to Poland as part of the International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) Grant Program.

Austin Peay students have been involved with the program since 2022, traveling to France, Poland and the Czech Republic to work on innovative science involving amorphous materials while exploring European lifestyle and culture. In 2024, the following students will explore the continent and learn cutting-edge lab techniques:

“I’m really excited,” Martinez said. “I’ve had a lot of support here, especially from Dr. [Carrie] Brennan, who encouraged me to look into this after I did well in her chemistry classes. And then doing research with Dr. [Roman] Holovchak, he’s who introduced working on glasses, which is what I’ll be doing in France.”

It won’t all be lab time, but there will be plenty of work during the seven weeks abroad. With their proximity to other cultures, students will also take in plenty of new experiences. Martinez and Rye plan to visit Paris and London for a weekend from their base in Rennes.

“It's a very good opportunity to learn not just about the life and culture,” said Clark, a sophomore traveling to Poland to study the antimicrobial effect of certain glasses and how they can be applied in healthcare settings. “It's also a very good opportunity for my resume, and I'm very aware of that.”

The IRES program will run until 2025 and has connected a generation of Govs with new environments, cultures and research methods. The next crop of travelers, like their predecessors, will bring back enough memories, techniques and experiences to last a lifetime.

“Selection to participate in the NSF International Research Experiences for Students program abroad is one of the most beneficial funding opportunities for American undergraduate students,” said Dr. Andriy Kovalkskiy, a professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering and Astronomy who works closely with the program. “Involvement in the program reveals the outstanding talents of our students, [along with] their mobility and ability to work in challenging cultural and scientific environments. This program generates confident and creative globally-oriented scientists ready for successful academic and industrial careers.”

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation International Research for Students (IRES) grant (Project No. NSF OISE-2106457).