Unlike many college students this summer, Autumn Gourley isn't planning to have a relaxing break from academics before the start of the fall semester. Gourley has been selected as a 2019 Delaware INBRE Scholar, joining the growing number of AAP students participating in summer undergraduate research programs.
The Delaware IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) is a network of six Delaware academic, health care and research institutions. Its Summer Scholars Program, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, gives selected undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct in-depth research projects in collaboration with a faculty mentor, helping them to gain a deeper understanding of research techniques and procedures.
This summer, Gourley will be participating in the Concussion Assessment, Education, and Research (CARE) Project with Dr. Thomas Buckley of UD's Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology. "From my understanding, we will be working on various tests for athletes who suffered from concussions, such as balance and impact tests," Gourley said. "I am beyond excited for this opportunity!"
The CARE Consortium was created through a partnership between the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense in response to growing concern over the effects of traumatic brain injury among college athletes and members of the military. Now entering its fourth year, the CARE study collects data through comprehensive neurological screenings of student athletes. As part of a larger research team consisting of faculty and doctoral students, Gourley will be involved in data collection and analysis. At the close of the summer program, she will also have the opportunity to present her data at regional or even national conferences.
Gourley became interested in the Summer Scholars program after attending an interest meeting hosted by Dr. Sarah Trembanis, Dover's campus coordinator, and biology professor Dr. Tom Giardina, who worked with last year's AAP INBRE Scholars.
"After going to the meeting, I was instantly intrigued," she said. "Dr. Trembanis, Mrs. Sandy McCormick, and some of the other amazing staff at the Dover AAP all persuaded and supported me to make the decision to apply. Once I got my acceptance notice I immediately told everyone, and they were all very excited for me! I'm truly glad to have all of them and their support."
Gourley's research placement this summer will be one more step in an ambitious academic journey: After earning her associate's degree at the AAP, she is planning a double major in psychology and criminal justice once she transitions to the Newark campus. She then plans to pursue a master's and eventual doctoral degree in psychology, with the ultimate goal of becoming a forensic psychologist.
Gourley says her longstanding passion for psychology inspired her to pursue this career path. "I also think the whole legal aspect is very interesting," she said. "I thought combining the two would be a fantastic opportunity."
For more information about the INBRE Summer Scholars Program, visit http://de-inbre.org/students/.