Idaho INBRE: The Scientific Research Experience of a Lifetime

Published: August 1, 2023

College of Western Idaho's (CWI) eight INBRE Scholars are making waves with their research project on test anxiety. As part of the Idaho INBRE Program, students immersed themselves in scientific research under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Biology, Suzanne Oppenheimer.

The three-week research experience saw students investigate psychological and physiological responses to taking exams. Using volunteers from CWI summer classes, they examined how test-taking can cause significant anxiety. Preliminary data suggests that while exams cause a lot of stress, physiological measures such as heart rate and stress hormones do not necessarily correlate with the exam-taking process.

The Scholars took a deep dive into the research project and carefully investigated different aspects of the physiological response to test-taking anxiety. They then analyzed and interpreted the results and designed four scientific posters to present at the Idaho INBRE Statewide Research Conference in Moscow July 24 – 26.

Congratulations to CWI students, Mimi Gates and Becky Swain, and INBRE intern, Tate Gallegos, who placed at the Research Conference. Gates and Swain were awarded third place in the Summer Scholars division for their poster, Heart Rate Not Indicative of Test Anxiety in Pilot Study, which displayed research suggesting that heart rate is not associated with test-taking anxiety, while Gallegos placed second in the Undergraduate Division for her research on disease surveillance methods to protect the health of human and animal populations.

Gates captures the essence of the INBRE program, stating, “INBRE has been the best place at the College to get experience doing hands-on research, without any judgment because we’re still learning. We all grasped lab skills and techniques together and learned from one another's mistakes. We helped lift each other up with the different skills that we brought in.”

The INBRE Summer Scholar Program runs each summer and provides students with an opportunity to gain authentic research experience in a fun and fast-paced environment.

Despite coming from a Humanities background, 2023 INBRE Summer Scholar and CWI Psychology student, Aryssa Decrevel, applied for the program after acing an Introduction to Microbiology (MMBS 111) course and some encouragement from Assistant Professor of Biology, Elise Connor.

“At first, I wasn't sure if this was the right fit for me, but the idea of combining a challenging experience with something beneficial for society really intrigued me,” said Decrevel. 

Decrevel admits that she was initially nervous about the intensity of the program. However, she was pleasantly surprised by the welcoming atmosphere and the level of support provided by Oppenheimer and the other students.

Through the INBRE program, Decrevel and the scholars gained invaluable skills such as operating lab equipment, technical skills, mastering Biology terminology, and improving their communication when working on a team. This experience has solidified Decrevel's passion for Biology and her desire to pursue a career in the field.

“Everybody is more than happy to help you,” Decrevel said. “I encourage others to give it a shot and apply for it because it's definitely worth it.”

2023 INBRE Summer Scholars:

Aryssa Decrevel, Becky Swain, Cecilia Barr, Dominique Castell, Elliot Johnson, Jocielyne Klamt, Mimi Gates, Neema Kamengele

For those interested in applying for next year’s INBRE Summer Scholars program at CWI, please contact Suzanne Oppenheimer at

Stay Up To Date

Learn about news and events by subscribing to CWI’s eNewsletter.

View Newsletter Archive