Emma Buckner of White Hall recently received a 2019 State Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Buckner is a senior honors biochemistry and biology major and business economics minor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, according to a news release.

She will use funding from the fellowship to complete a research project entitled, “The Role of Membrane Composition in the Sensitivity of Yeast to Antifungal Peptides.”

“I am very grateful to have received the Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship,” Buckner said. “I am glad that my work can reflect positively on the University of Arkansas, as well as contribute to our wealth of scientific knowledge.”

To be eligible for the program, students must have an excellent academic record and the support of a faculty mentor. To be considered for an award, students must submit a detailed research proposal and letters of recommendation from faculty, according to the release.

Buckner’s research mentor is David McNabb, associate professor of biology.

“Emma’s research is focused on understanding the mechanism by which small peptide-based compounds kill fungi, with the long-term objective of exploiting these mechanisms to develop better therapeutics for combating fungal infections in humans,” McNabb said. “Emma is an intelligent, energetic, and mature young woman who has contributed significantly to this research effort and she is certainly deserving of the SURF grant.”

The SURF program is funded by the state of Arkansas and was originally created in 1992 with start-up funding from the National Science Foundation. It is designed to encourage original research by undergraduate students at colleges and universities in Arkansas. The fellowship gives students the opportunity to complete a research project of their own design under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The program awards selected students a stipend and travel funds, which can be used for research-related travel and to present research at a professional conference. Faulty mentors also receive a small stipend, according to the release.

“The state sponsored Student Undergraduate Research Fellowships represent an exceptional opportunity for undergraduates in this state,” said Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Through this award, Arkansas is encouraging students to frame important questions and, with the support of faculty mentors, to seek innovative answers for those questions.”

The University of Arkansas’ Office of Nationally Competitive Awards works in partnership with the Honors College, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and academic departments across campus to advise UA students on SURF grants. The SURF program is administered and funded through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, with individual colleges and universities providing matching funds. Many SURF recipients present their research at the annual Arkansas Undergraduate Research Conference held at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.