The AppState curriculum is designed to give you a powerful enrichment experience in science and mathematics. You will actively pursue an independent (or group) project and write a research paper, which you will present at the end of the program. Your professors will work closely with you on your project and will guide you in the preparation of your paper.

The Academic Program

Summer Ventures is a four week academic program allowing students to participate in a variety of research, demonstration, problem solving and technical writing coursework. Each student will investigate and complete a research project. All students write a scientific paper about their investigation and give an oral presentation on the final day of the program.

Summer Ventures offers special instruction not available through high school classes. None of the offerings duplicate either the high school or the college curriculum. All of the classes are designed to enrich and complement college preparation. Students are expected to participate fully and perform as both an independent and collaborative learner.

Students should expect their professor to evaluate their work. These evaluations may be in the form of papers, projects, reports or by other means. A summary of the quality of the student's work will be provided. Students who successfully complete all program requirements are awarded a certificate at the closing ceremony.

To supplement your research skills, we encourage all students to participate in:

  • Research Prep Course (provided by NCSSM prior to the SVSM program).
  • Technical Writing: Learning the unique written communication skills that scientists need for publications and presentations. Students will receive instruction within individual research classes as well as participate in writing workshops.

Students are required to attend their classes and all other academic components of the institute. In line with your academic interests, you will be assigned to one of the following research areas and work closely with a university professor and her/his staff.

About 2024 Course Assignments

Students will be send course descriptions and asked to rank their choice of research class in order of preference. Assignments will be made based on eligibility (e.g., pre-requisites) as well as section availability, etc. Historically, students have been assigned their first or second choice.

Google Form link to rank course preferences will be emailed to students.

Research Courses

(Sustainability/Climate Change/Data Science)

The concept of a sustainable environment is global in its applicability. Coming to an agreement on how much people want their environment to be sustainable is a difficult issue because of the differences in what people want from their environment. The issues that lead to such disagreements are at once global and local to that particular issue. Humans impact the environment in numerous ways. Climate change is one of them. In fact, climate change can exacerbate the already detrimental effects that humans have on the environment. That is why sustainability should play a large part in how societies function.

In this class, we will be discussing sustainability issues, concentrating on climate change, including many applications of data science. Climate change is still a controversial topic, mainly among the general public and policy makers, and to some extent, among scientists. The outcome of this debate is important to us as a global society because of the policy choices, and ultimately the laws, that will be passed. The policy choices made in different countries will be important to the local communities and to the global society because the effects of climate change are both local and global. We will be learning about the science behind sustainability issues and climate change, and the uncertainties and challenges faced by the scientists and policy makers. We will also learn about how decisions and policies affect such issues and the different stakeholders affected by these issues. Basic scientific concepts will be explained throughout the course and will be enhanced by discussing various academic articles and case studies.  Students will also be exposed to how various science disciplines are involved with aspects of sustainability and climate change. Topics such as social change, simulation/sampling, data analysis as well as chemistry, biology, oceanography topics will allow for students to develop unique individual research studies.

Learning Outcomes: The course will concentrate on critical thinking skills, team and leadership building skills, and effective communication, through scholarly articles and case study discussions. This will help students recognize, among other things, human versus natural causes and impacts on the environment, diagnose a problem, and come up with solutions to that problem through analysis and reasoning. Coming up with solutions to widespread problems on the environment, especially problems like climate change will also teach students about the importance and responsibilities of community membership.

Students will work collaboratively to write a research paper and present their findings at the research symposia at the end of the program.


Dr. Anindita Das, University College, Appalachian State University

Mr. Woody Madison, Mathematics Instructor, Lees-McRae College

Students will work to develop the skills of an aquatic ecologist and environmental scientist. Students will sample undisturbed headwater streams in western North Carolina to investigate/explore relationships described in the River Continuum Concept by Vannote, et al., 1980. Data from benthic macro-invertebrate and water chemistry samples from undisturbed areas will be compared to samples from local impacted streams of the High Country to determine and predict significant changes in correlations between the land cover/use and the physical, chemical, geological, and biological aspects of the aquatic systems. Field-based experiences will focus on case studies that introduce environmental problems that will serve as models for a variety of student-based research designs. Biological topics will include aquatic population and biodiversity responses to toxins or disturbance, laboratory and field sampling and analytical methods, and statistical analysis of data. Some population ecology and geological concepts, including hydrology, may be covered including the human impacts on rivers and streams, focusing on three areas: stream sediments and solid wastes, natural and human-derived changes in stream water chemistry, flooding hazards, and forests.  As a field course, students will visit sites in Boone and surrounding areas to take advantage of the large number of unique local water resources and forest sites. Therefore, appropriate shoes and clothing that can get wet/muddy are needed. Old tennis shoes, or shoes such as Keen, Chaco, or Teva that stay strapped on, but can be worn in the river and quick-dry clothing are needed as well as sturdy hiking shoes/boots. Students will need a hat, water bottle and sunscreen. It is important that you enjoy/want to experience the outdoors and are willing to commit to working extensively in streams and forests if you select this class. Each student will develop a research hypothesis, collect necessary data to test this hypothesis, write a research paper, and present their findings at the research symposium. Prefer students who have completed Biology and Earth/ Environmental Science.

Please note: You must be physically fit/able to hike tough terrain/long distances to enroll in this course. Field work includes working in rivers/streams/forests and hiking to remote locations. Non-swimmers and those with bee sting allergies need to communicate directly with Lori Tyler regarding this course, if interested.

Summer 2019 Feature Article: High water, higher expectations — a STEM learning experience for all ages at App State


Dr. Shea Tuberty, Department of Biology, Appalachian State University

Mr. Kelly Ruff, Science Teacher, Hickory High School, Hickory City Schools

Mr. Dominik Bettini, Biology graduate student, Appalachian State University

Biochemical Characterization of Thermostable Tardigrade Proteins

This course will investigate the ability of intrinsically disordered proteins from tardigrades to stabilize alcohol dehydrogenase at elevated temperatures. Students will search the primary literature and optimize protein expression, purification, and stabilzation of alcohol dehydrogenase under various conditions. Techniques to be used will include: DNA isolation, determination of DNA and protein concentrations, protein expression optimization, and affinity and size exclusion column chromatography. Upon successful protein isolation, enzymes will be characterized using SDS-PAGE gels and enzyme activity assays. In addition, students will acquire transferable soft skills such as laboratory safety, experimental design, and maintaining a thorough lab notebook and will learn about career opportunities in chemistry and biomedical research. All students will complete a research paper to be presented at the research symposia at the end of the program. Completion of AP Chemistry and/or AP Biology is preferred.


Dr. Brooke Christian, Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences, Appalachian State University

Harper Bennett, undergraduate student, Departments of Chemistry & Fermentation Sciences and Biology, Appalachian State University

Human Physiology in Exercise Science:

What is human physiology and what can exercise do to make us feel better? This research course is designed to teach basic and advanced concepts of cardiorespiratory (heart and lungs), metabolic (energy expenditure and body composition), neuromuscular (brain and muscles) physiology through scientific reading, class discussions and data collection in the field of Exercise Science. Students will select their project and, through individual and group work, will learn how to perform advanced physiological assessments in a research laboratory. Students will participate in training sessions on state-of-the-art, research-level equipment, record physiological parameters and comprehend their significance, write a scientific paper, and prepare an oral presentation for the final research symposium. During test sessions, students will conduct and receive measurements under the supervision of faculty and student mentors to gain comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of the respective field of study. All tests are non-invasive and they will be conducted in the Cardiometabolic and in the Locomotor Learning laboratories. Students must have completed biology and chemistry in order to be successful in this course. Preference will be given to those who have had advanced biology, advanced chemistry, AP Biology/Chemistry, and/or Anatomy & Physiology. 

Please note: In order to participate in this research class, students and parents may be asked to complete a Consent Form that ensures confidentiality and other research aspects as required under the instructors' IRB guidelines. Once a student has submitted the class preferences and indicates this course as their first choice, additional forms will be emailed for your review and determination whether you want to enroll in this course. The purpose of completing these forms will allow Dr. Meucci , Dr. Skinner, and their graduate/undergraduate students to use collected data in their ongoing research as well as ensure Summer Ventures students having the ability to participate fully in the current/empirical research projects. The data collected during the 2018 Summer Ventures program were presented by AppState and Summer Venture students at the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in February 2019. Also, an additional medical form must be completed and submitted.


Dr. Marco Meucci, Department of Public Health & Exercise Science, Appalachian State University

Dr. Jared Skinner, Department of Public Health & Exercise Science, Appalachian State University

Upper Undergraduate & Graduate Student Research Assistants