Student receives $4,000 SURF grant; Research to be done summer 2011

Junior biology major and anthropology minor Lennon Bates is going above and beyond to achieve what she wants to do in her future.
Bates was awarded a $4,000 grant at the end of last semester, the beginning of Dec. 2010. The grant was awarded to Bates for research that she is doing with associate professor of chemistry Karen Steelman.
The grant was through the Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
“When I found out I got the grant, I was really excited because I get the summer to work on my project and I will be able to have the time to do so,” Bates said.
Bates received this grant to work on her project of a plasma oxidation system with multiple chambers so projects will go along faster.
“Dr. Steelman gathered samples from cave paintings from the Martu people in Australia. These samples go through the plasma oxidation to give them dates and figure out how old this rock art actually is,” Bates said.
Steelman said that the Martu people were a hunter-gatherer community in Australia and were one of the last tribes on earth to see white westerners.
When the rock art is oxidized, carbon dioxide is extracted from it, which tells how old the sample is. UCA currently has a plasma oxidation system with one chamber.
“I got these samples from cave paintings in Australia. They were from an aboriginal tribe there, and this information that we gather from dating the paintings will be used to interpret these paintings and know how old they are. Anthropologists assist us with this project,” Steelman said.
Steelman said she was also excited for Bates to receive this grant. She sent out an e-mail to all of her students telling them about this grant. Bates came to her and told her she wanted to apply for the SURF grant.
“I was so excited for Lennon when I found out she got the grant. She had to write a proposal, which is not easy, and had to write a lot of background information on the project telling what she wanted to do. What you do in the lab is different from writing it down on paper. The grant will give her a stipend so she will be able to stay in Conway this summer and work on the project, and she’ll get some money for travel costs and supplies,” Steelman said.
Bates said she is hopeful for what the future will hold with her project and the impact it will make on the people that are being directly affected by this carbon dating.
“I think this will be great for the Martu people in the western Australian outback. I think it will help the chemistry department as a whole to get work done faster and I believe that I will be able to benefit from it too,” Bates said.
Bates said she has big plans for her future after graduating in May of 2012.
“I really want to get a graduate degree in forensic anthropology at Texas State University in San Marcos,” Bates said.

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