University of Colorado student Makenzie Lewis`s summer job is in a neurology lab, where she`s working on better ways to keep chronic pain under control.

Lewis is working alongside a leading expert in the field who studies how the brain and the immune system communicate back and forth, with a focus on pain.

This summer, 20 CU students, including Lewis, are benefiting from federal stimulus money that pays for them to work in research labs on campus with professors. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act`s grants for CU students total about $200,000.

In past summers, Lewis said she`s worked at coffee and ice cream shops.

“This is such a great opportunity,” she said. “It is great to have a summer job where I am gaining valuable lab experience, and one where I am given a great deal of responsibility to help with real-world research.”

Lewis is working in professor Linda Watkins` lab with five other undergraduates. They are exploring the clinical effectiveness of drugs used for pain control. Watkins` students are working on projects in the fields of molecular biology, pharmacology and anatomy.

“The students working with me would not have been able to participate in research over the summer if it had not been for these stimulus funds,” Watkins said.

Other students receiving federal funds are investigating the herpes virus; regenerating cartilage in the joint of the jaw; and exploring how the neuromuscular system affects the steadiness of older adults.

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