Andras Selected to Participate in Nicholls Program Designed to Increase Minorities in STEM Fields

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Autumn Andras

Autumn Andras, a Chemistry junior at Nicholls State University, will participate in a program aimed to encourage women and other underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.


Nicholls has received $5,000 for the Supervised Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project this semester. The money will pay Andras’ salary and will also be used for supplies and other related activities. The goal of the project is to encourage students to attend graduate school in a STEM field. The National Science Foundation and Louisiana Board of Regents sponsor the SURE program.


The Raceland native will work under the supervision of chemistry professor Dr. Uttam Pokharel.


“Students can present their research findings in different scientific meetings,” Dr. Pokharel said. “The results can also be published in peer-reviewed journals, which is very helpful to build their resume and career.”


Her research seeks to understand the mechanism of the formation of cyclic lactones. Lactones are a valuable structural motif in natural products and active molecules. They contribute to the aroma of fruits, butter, cheese and other foods.


“The Department of Chemistry is devoted to student mentoring,” said Chad Young, chemistry department head. “This program is a great example of our faculty’s efforts to mentor the best chemists in Louisiana. We are so proud of Autumn and Uttam.”


The program will run from Jan. 1 to July 31, with the option to request an extension to Dec. 31.