Undergraduate Research Blog

The Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research accepts blog posts from all UNH undergraduate students currently or recently engaged in research. To submit a piece of writing for consideration or discuss a story idea, please contact the editors.


A Day in the Wetlands of Southern New Hampshire

Maeve Kelley

Published September 7, 2021

Since majoring in Wildlife and Conservation Biology at UNH, I’ve always pictured myself spending days in the field. I assumed that spending each day handling and researching animals was unrealistic, but that maybe on occasion I could pick up a species or look at an individual from afar. This assumption was proved wrong so quickly and so pleasantly when I began my Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). Each week of my project consisted of turtle trapping and research in the computer lab working with a Geographic Information System (GIS). Another field technician and I joined a graduate student at UNH, who is leading a long-term research project on the freshwater turtles of New Hampshire. Each week we would head to a set of three ponds where we collected turtles on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We would then move traps on Wednesdays to three new ponds that would be visited on Thursdays and Fridays. Read more >>

If You Didn’t Know, Research Is More Than Math

Paige O’Neil

Published September 6, 2021

In every incoming student campus tour, UNH boasts its prestigious research opportunities. When I was at the dinner for prospective Hamel Scholars class of 2024, I shook a lot of hands with faculty who were eager to tell me what exciting research was being conducted in their department. Those conversations often ended with me saying something like, “That is wonderful, but I don’t think research is for me,” and because I didn’t want to hurt any feelings, I would add, “but I’ll keep this in mind in case I would like to explore research!” At that point, to me, research was math, stats, reports, and experiments. As a communication major, none of that was appealing to me—all I knew is that I never wanted to take another science class again. Read more >>

nichols and mentor

Mentorship and First Drafts Are Pivotal to Undergraduate Research

Johanne Nichols

Published August 31, 2021

This summer, I have been conducting research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s lives as well as finding and pursuing solutions to solve inequities in society that were exasperated by the pandemic. I took my first week of research to focus on an overview of problems which primarily impacted women during the pandemic. This required finding different articles through the UNH library as well as reading those suggested by my mentor. I conducted this research primarily from my computer at home.  I was slowly able to grasp an understanding of the connections that tied many of these inequalities  together.  I then narrowed my focus on the background conditions that allowed these problems to manifest themselves into society for decades leading up to the pandemic. (Pictured: Johanne Nicholes (left) with mentor, Nina Windgaetter.Read more >>


Searching for the Holy Grail of Catalysis

Samuel Mercer

Published August 30, 2021

Methane conversion, the process of converting methane to desirable products such as methanol or syngas, has garnered the title as the holy grail of catalysis. As the primary component of natural gas, the complex chemistry of methane has limited its potential for sustainable utilization, perplexing researchers for over a century with countless methods and experimental approaches attempted to develop an economically viable process for chemical production. Like finding the holy grail (although without the mythos and eternal life), the rewards of finding a solution to this challenging process could potentially turn methane into a viable alternative fuel.  My research, funded by a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), uses a photocatalytic approach (accelerating a chemical reaction by using light) for selective methane conversion to methanol and syngas through oxidation by hydrogen peroxide. Read more >>