The College of Science, Technology, and Mathematics (CSTM) is invested in the Mission of Tusculum University.  That mission is:  Building on a rich Presbyterian heritage and a pioneering spirit, Tusculum University provides an active and experiential education within a caring Christian environment to inspire civic engagement, enrich personal lives, and equip career-ready professionals.

Each of the departments with CSTM are working to provide opportunities for students to put use what they are learning in the classroom into real life experiences through internships, job shadowing, and research.

Department of Natural Sciences

Research Opportunities – Dr. Dennis Ashford

Dr. Dennis Ashford is hiring research assistants for a paid summer experience.


This position serves as the Research Assistant (RA) on fundamental chemical research at Tusculum University. The job includes working closely with a supervising faculty advisor to conduct fundamental research in the chemical sciences. The RA is responsible for assisting the faculty member in a variety of non-administrative tasks that may include designing and preparing materials, utilizing instrumentation, and documenting results in support of the research activity. The research project specifically deals with the synthesis and analysis of new anti-cancer prodrugs and combines organic and inorganic chemistry techniques and theories. The RA position is intended to provide the opportunity to learn proper research procedures and techniques. The supervising faculty mentor will be responsible for providing ongoing feedback and assistance in the research project.


There is no prior experience required for this position, but it is required that the applicant be working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry or Biology at Tusculum University. It is also required that the RA be able to work safely in a laboratory setting, be able to collaborate with their peers on the research project, and clearly document their experimental design and results in a laboratory notebook. In addition, the RA should be able to utilize library and/or literature searchers to advance the project forward.


If you would like to apply for this position, please email a cover letter (no more than a single page) and your resume/CV to Prof. Dennis Ashford at dashford@tusculum.edu. Applications accepted until March 15th of each academic year.

Medicinal Plants in Appalachia – Dr. Susan Monteleone

This project is designed to identify, collect and analyze familial relatives of well-described medicinal plants in our region and assay them for medicinal compounds. Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is just such a medicinal plant, highly prized for its therapeutic properties. Its distribution is throughout the Appalachian region. Another such specimen is Broad-leaf Plantain (Plantago major), a weed that is commonly found in our yards and fields.Student researchers will assist in the collection, sample bioassay (preparation and processing), and analysis of study results. This project involves both lab and field work. We will take field trips to locate and collect related plants to process for active compound bioassay.

Start time: Negotiable
Applicants needed: 1 – 3
Course pre-requisites: None
Approximate hours/week: 8 – 10 hours, unpaid, course credit available

Email interest to smonteleone@tusculum.edu


Psychology Research

Understanding the physical and mental barriers to quality healthcare is a large-scale goal for many in the health sciences. The Appalachian region is especially vulnerable to healthcare shortages for numerous reasons, which has negatively impacted both the physical and mental health of its residents. Drs. Smith and Pellosmaa are have multiple research lines broadly examining mental and physical health; current projects are investigating vaccine hesitancy, perceptions and access to mental health care, and the relationship between stress and physiological health. The goal of our lab is to elucidate some of the factors that could impair or promote healthy living. Previously, student research assistants have explored relationships between Spirituality & Health, Pet Ownership & Mental Health, Impulsivity & Health, and Social Media Use & Self-esteem. Each year, our students are encouraged to present their work at local and regional conferences (e.g., Tusculum Symposium & Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Symposium). Most of our research assistants are pursuing graduate programs (Medical School, Counseling, Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, etc.) and are encouraged to enroll in PSYC 353/435 and/or apply for stipend supported research fellowships (e.g., Psi Chi, ACA Ledford Scholars).


Who we’re looking for: Students who are interested in projects that broadly examine health (mental, physical, social, spiritual, etc.). No prior experience is needed for this position, but students should be working towards a degree in psychology or a psychology adjacent area (e.g., biology, criminal justice, mathematics, neuroscience, sports science, nursing, etc.).


What’s the project: We have previously collected data that may be used for secondary data analyses for students who are interested in projects where data collection has already been completed. However, students are also encouraged to present their own research questions to the Primary Investigator’s for evaluation.


Start time: rolling; at least 2 semesters before graduation


Course pre-requisites: PSYC 201/L or permission from Drs. Smith and/or Pellosmaa


Approximate hours/week: Flexible, this will depend on the scope of the project and if the student is being compensated (i.e., via a fellowship stipend or course credit)


Email interest to psycresearch@tusculum.edu