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 2022 Course Assignments

There are four (4) research courses offered. Students will be asked to rank these 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, with an emphasis on Climate Change)

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 and aspects of biomass. 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 biofuels, solar fuels, photoelectrochemistry, etc. as well as other 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. Hands-on topics will also be included in addition to seminar discussions.

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

Dr. Michael Hambourger, Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences, Appalachian State University

Consultant: Mrs. Sharareh (Sherry) Nikbakht, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Appalachian State University

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. Todd Jackson, Department of Biology, Appalachian State University

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

Mr. Scott Taylor, Retired Science Teacher, Caldwell County Schools

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

This course will involve participating in ongoing/current research in the ASCEND Biochemistry CURE laboratory. Students will optimize conditions required to purify uncharacterized alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes from gut microbiota. Initial research activities will involve searching the primary literature, protein expression and purifiction. Techniques to be used will include: DNA isolations, 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 the following techniques: native and SDS-PAGE gels, enzyme activity assays, Western blot, and data analysis. In addition, students will acquire transferable soft skills such as laboratory safety, experimental design, and maintaining a thorough lab notebook as well as learn about career opportunities in chemistry and biochemistry research. All students will complete a research paper to be presented at the research symposia at the end of the program.

Please note:   Completion of biology and chemistry is required and a course in AP Chemistry or AP Biology is preferred.


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

Dr. Megen Culpepper,  Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences, Appalachian State University

Upper Undergraduate Student Research Assistants

In today’s data driven society, it is a prerequisite of those studying science, mathematics, and other STEM related disciplines that they understand data collection, analysis and application. In this course, we will deeply examine the process by which we collect and manipulate data, including aspects of the "new" field of data science. Please note that this is not an introductory statistics course. Our focus will be on interpretation of data as opposed to development of statistical theory, and plan to include various research methods and methodologies. We will explore applications of data within the context of a variety of topics, including statistical inference, game theory, voting theory, rank order data, data envelopment analysis, and data visualization. Students will explore techniques investigating both quantitative and qualitative data through experimental design, simulation, and modules. Students will work both individually and collaboratively to obtain a mastery of the topics presented. At the conclusion of the course, students will use available data sets to develop their own unique research project that includes producing a paper and preparing an oral presentation.

Note: This course is adaptable for students who have not had any prior statistics coursework or those who have had AP Statistics.


Dr. Joel Sanqui, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Appalachian State University

Dr. Caleb Marsh, Assistant Director of Program Evaluation, College Access Partnerships, Appalachian State University

Mr. Woody Madison, Mathematics Teacher, Caldwell Applied Sciences Academy