The First UROP Grant Recipients

Thirteen of the 23 students who received the first set of Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grants in fall 1987 appeared on the cover of the Summer '88 issue of the New Hampshire Alumnus. Read their first-person accounts on their lives thus far by clicking on the alums, or links, below.

UNH Alumnus Summer '88 issue Erik Froburg '88, '02G Jesse Dallery '90 Debra Richards Thibodeau '88 Steve Wall '88 David L. Gray '89 Nicholas Mantis '88 Colin C. Frost '88, '90G Daniel J. Therrien '88 Scott Wudyka '88 Dean T. La Pierre '88 Amy Beasley Cronin '89 Donna Gerety Eager '89 Karen Verny Henny '88
Click on the alums above, or their names below, to read what they have been doing since graduation, and their memories of their UROP grant project.

Top row, from left:
Erik Froburg '88, '02G, Jesse Dallery '90, Debra Richards Thibodeau '88 and George "Steve" Wall '88. Middle row: David Gray '89, Nicholas Mantis '88, Colin C. Frost '88, '90G, Daniel Therrien '88 and Scott Wudyka '88. Bottom row: Dean T. La Pierre '88, Amy Beasley Cronin '89, Donna Gerety Eager '89 and Karen Verny Henny '88.

Summer 1988 UNH Alumnus

Where are they now?

Top Row, From Left
Erik Froburg '88, '02G, The arts, environmental education
Educational coordinator, Leitzel Center, UNH
"My particular focus has been in promoting authentic research by students, and in providing schools with more direct access to scientists and contemporary research in the geo-sciences."

Jesse Dallery '90, psychology
Associate professor, psychology, University of Florida
"When they took the photo for the cover, I remember that I didn't have any props—I had prop envy. I just had a book and some notebooks, and others had diving gear, movie reels, drills."

Debra Richards Thibodeau '88, psychology
Guidance counselor, Georgetown Elementary School
"I remember that I bought pigeons with my grant money. I had to drive all the way to Logan Airport to meet them at the gate! Needless to say, getting through the gate was quite interesting."

George "Steve" Wall '88, English
Lead summit optics technician, W.M. Keck Observatory, Hawaii
"My work was a mixed media large-scale sculpture installation and I had no props for the photo shoot, so I showed up with a chainsaw, which I thought would seem pretty butch and might end up impressing girls. But in the end I felt like kind of a dork because I had never actually used a chainsaw before."

Middle Row
David L. Gray '89, communication
Regional vice president, marketing and sales, Time-Warner Cable
"For me [the UROP project] was a very real lesson of getting out of an experience what I had put into it."

Nicholas Mantis '88, microbiology
Research scientist, Division of Infectious Diseases, New York State Department of Health
"I was going to major in microbiology and minor in business administration, with the goal of becoming a big shot executive in biotechnology. I entered the lab as an undergraduate and I haven't left since."

Colin C. Frost '88, '90G, mechanical engineering
Senior research engineer, Space Science Center, UNH

Daniel J. Therrien '88, mechanical engineering
Project manager, Office of Construction and Facilities Management, Veterans Affairs
"I still remember the 'eureka' moment on this project like it was yesterday. We didn't have a milling machine at our disposal, but we needed some way to figure out if the load cell could measure force being applied to it. So after finally building the thing and wiring it up to the oscilloscope, late one evening in the lab, exhausted and frustrated, I jumped up on the table, stood on the load cell, and shook my whole body back and forth. Lo and behold, a sign wave showed up on the screen! I screamed at the top of my lungs for Woody to load paper into the machine and start recording the output. It worked! It actually worked!"

Scott Wudyka '88, mechanical engineering
Systems R&D Manager, Covidien
"Being on the cover initially didn't have a big impact—I was busy with a new job, moving and beginning a new life. But every time I saw the cover, which to this day is still on my mom's refrigerator, it brings back the memories and how proud I am of my time at UNH."

Bottom Row
Dean T. La Pierre '88, chemical engineering
Chief Underwriting Officer, Technical Risk Underwriters
"Like anything in life, you're never quite sure how what you do at any one time might direct your future. Because of my research, the insurance industry recognized me as someone who might know a little bit about how things burn. That knowledge took me in the direction of fire protection and has led me to a wonderful career in the financial industry. There's no way I could have ever predicted that at the time, but I can look back now and say my life would have been very different had I not chosen to work on this particular project during my upperclass years at UNH."

Amy Beasley Cronin '89, chemical engineering
Division manager, National Fire Protection Agency
"My UROP project was my first opportunity to present my research publicly. Although I was horrible in the beginning at public speaking, I kept practicing and I'm now comfortable presenting regularly in front of large—and sometimes hostile—audiences."

Donna Gerety Eager '89, medical technology
School librarian, school media library specialist, Heatly School and Rotterdam Academy.
"My focus was on finding out the percentage of women that were anemic at college. I remember trying really hard to get volunteers to actually have their finger stuck to determine if they were anemic. I felt strongly about making women aware of the possibility that the reason they were so tired may be because they were anemic. I enjoyed the research project and it definitely gave me more confidence in my ability to successfully work in the medical field. I was fascinated with learning about red blood cells and always loved later as a medical technologist understanding the possible medical implications of the test results of the various patients."

Karen Verny Henny '88, biology
Kinesiology instructor, paramedic, McGregor Memorial EMS, UNH
"I firmly believe everyone should be given an opportunity to investigate things that interest them—it helps to develop maturity to strive for a goal."

Also read a pdf of the Summer '88 NH Alumnus article

Editor's note: Due to an editing error, a quote by Daniel Therrien '88 was attributed to Dean LaPierre '88 in the print version of this story.

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