How does roasting coffee change its caffeine level? Isabelle Clayton, a senior nutrition and Spanish major and aspiring food scientist wanted to find out, so she applied for a U-SOAR grant. Working with chemistry professor Nate McElroy and local coffee roaster Commonplace Coffee, Clayton took samples throughout the roasting process, then analyzed them to find out how much each minute of roasting lowered the coffee’s caffeine content.

The Undergraduate Summer Opportunity for Applying Research (U-SOAR) program offers undergraduates an opportunity to do research in a field of their choice with a faculty mentor. It provides stipends to cover expenses, freeing students to concentrate on getting hands-on experience that builds their résumés and improves their chances of getting into grad school.