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L.E.A.R.N.'s Focus is on Academic Achievement Through Mentoring & Community Building!


L.E.A.R.N.™ students have the opportunity to take part in a truly unique academic experience. Students participate in research apprenticeships, which engage students in hands-on, inquiry-based learning. The research opportunities are usually reserved for upper-level and graduate level students. The program works with each student and will try to match students in the scientific areas of study that interest them. L.E.A.R.N.™ students have the luxury to gain skills, knowledge, and expertise early on in their academic careers at WCU. These opportunities offer students the chance to build a pathway for future careers and post-graduate work. During their year in L.E.A.R.N. students will take at two classes together-Introduction to Research (Part I) and Undergraduate Research in the Discipline (Part II). Part I in the fall semester will engage students in developing knowledge and skills in participating in professional research. L.E.A.R.N.™ students will use their time in their research apprenticeship to work on creating research proposals, and a corresponding research presentation. The two-part course in L.E.A.R.N. is designed to support and promote academic achievement and success in students, as well as emphasize the role that participatory research plays in their education and future careers.

2017 LEARN Students

2017-2018 LEARN

2016 Poster Winner

2016-2017 Poster Winner Cayley Johnson (left) with Student Research Mentor, Elizabeth Bollman


The L.E.A.R.N.™ community is designed to be an inclusive and supported community for the diverse learners participating in the program. A pillar of that design is to establish an integrated framework of mentors for the L.E.A.R.N.™ students. The program has two dedicated STEM Peer Mentors, and a mentor apprentice team usually made up of an upper-level research student and a faculty researcher.  In addition to the mentor staff, the L.E.A.R.N.™ program faculty and staff will be highly involved to support, monitor, and offer resources for success. The goal is for L.E.A.R.N.™ students to have several mentors and program specialists to assist with decisions and provide guidance throughout their time as participants, and beyond.

Are you a student-researcher looking to mentor in STEM?

Consider the L.E.A.R.N. Program! Get experience and research supply funding by mentoring transfer students through an undergraduate research experience.  Add to your resume and share your expertise to a fellow Catamount! Contact Kloo Hansen, Program Coordinator at

Meet Our Mentors!

Hagen Boggs, L.E.A.R.N. Resident Advisor



Denver, North Carolina
Biology with a concentration in cell/molecular biology
Research Interests, Projects, and/or Presentations
My research interests are in genetics, genomics, and neurology.
Faculty Mentor
Dr. Indi Bose
Career Interests
Obtain a MD/PHd in the filed of Neurology

Ellie Armstrong, LC Peer Mentor


Charlotte, North Carolina

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology/Anthropology
Research Interests, Projects, and/or Presentations
Fucundity in Mosquitoes
Faculty Mentor
Dr. Brian Byrd
Career Interests
Go to Graduate School.
I am looking at Brown and Superfund site restoration.

Jesse Sarver, LLC Peer Mentor


Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Electrical Engineering/Mathematics
Research Interests, Projects, and/or Presentations
Swarm robotics with Crazyflie 2.0 drones 
Faculty Mentor
Dr. Yanjun Yan

Career Interests
Robotics and renewable energy

JOnathan Mashburn, LC Peer Mentor


Cullowhee, North Carolina
Electrical Engineering with Mathematics Minor
Research Interests, Projects, and/or Presentations
Electrical power usage and creating growth models to predict power usage
Machine Learning
Faculty Mentor
Dr. Andrew Penland
Career Interests
To work for an engineering firm and to be able to obtain my engineering license.

Dakota Little, LLC peer mentor


Jefferson, North Carolina

Environmental Science/Biology

Research Interests, Projects, and/or Presentations
Water Hydrology in Relation to Headwater Catchments and Runoff Generation
Faculty Mentor
Dr. JP Gannon

Career Interests
Attend law school for environmental law, and run for public office. 



L.E.A.R.N.™ students work to build a strong community where everybody knows and can support each other. Our program encourages collaboration and connection. To promote this sense of community the program staff will design programs to offer students opportunity to get to know one another. Programs are facilitated by our peer mentors and resident advisor, and include activities like hiking, attending camus events, workshops, and potlucks (there's nothing quite like a meal to bring everyone together). In addition to what the L.E.A.R.N.™ program leaders will host, we encourage our L.E.A.R.N.™ students to get involved through other campus activities. For participating students, they receive a program calendar so they can get the most out of the university experience.

2017-2018 LEARN Students

LEARN Students at a WCU football game.

2017 Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

LEARN Studens making liquid nitrogen ice cream.

LEARN at Highlands

LEARN Students visiting Highlands Biological Station

L.E.A.R.N.™ Program Leaders:

Dr. William R. Kwochka
Associate Professor
Director of L.E.A.R.N.™
Department of Chemistry and Physics

Mrs. Kloo C. Hansen, M.A.
L.E.A.R.N.™ Coordinator
University Program Specialist
Office of the Provost

Mr. Ken Pfaff, MA.Ed.
L.E.A.R.N.™ Advisor
Academic Advisor
Western Carolina University


L.E.A.R.N. is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

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