More than 125 students sacrificed their 2007 summer vacations to spend the season on the Hill, collaborating with professors on research in fields ranging from biology, chemistry and neuroscience to anthropology, gender studies and literature.
The majority of participating students made the Science Center their home away from home. Summer science research has grown consistently—in 1999, there were just 14 professors and 25 students at work over the summer, but by this year the group had expanded to 30 professors and 94 students.What's the draw? Leslie North, coordinator of the Summer Science Research Program, says that what really sets summer research apart from school-year academics is the opportunity for students and teachers to collaborate beyond what is possible in class. "There is no better example of close student-professor bonding than research, where you're both beating your heads over an issue together," she says.
Elijah Lachance '10 agrees. "There is no professor who just sits in an office and waits.... They are all passionate about what they're doing," says Lachance, who is pursuing chemistry research. "That's a passion that really comes out in their dealings with students. They want their students to care as much about the research as they do."
The students will present their research at the annual Scienc e Research Poster Session in the fall, where they will share their results with the College community. The poster session "gives them a chance to articulate what they have accomplished to someone who doesn't necessarily speak the language," North says. This year's poster session will be held during FamilyWeekend, on November 9. In addition, as a result of their research, many of the students will figure as coauthors in articles published with their professors.
Beyond the Science Center and the natural sciences, Emerson and Levitt grants allow students to pursue a wide range of research. Emerson Foundation grants were created in 1997 so that students could team up with faculty members to investigate an area of interest. Twenty students received funding frthe Emerson Foundation this year to study topics ranging from "The Vestiges of Early Christianity on the Southeast Coast of China" to "One Step Forward or Backward?: The Self-Help Revolution and Gender." The students will make public presentations of their work during the 2007-08 school year.
Many students enjoy the independence that comes with an Emerson Grant, since the projects are self-designed and can evolve in unforeseen ways.Max Currier '10, whose project researches the Bush Administration and the war on terror, praises this autonomy. "I was able to construct the idea for my project from the beginning, and nobody has told me to change it or how to go about researching it," he says. Independence does not mean lack of support, however. In addition to his advisor, former professors and librarians have offered help, from looking at drafts of his paper to just discussing ideas.
For students interested in public affairs research, the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center provides grants to work intensively with faculty members through its Levitt Research Fellows Program. This summer, 17 students are researching topics including "Changing Perceptions of Race in the U.S. Army," "The Impact of a Proper Education on the Development of Democracy in the Republic of Georgia" and "The Link between African Philanthropic Endeavors and Celebrity Patrons."
The Levitt Center also awards two summer fellowships for civic engagement. This year, Evan Torres '08 received the Community-Based Research Fellowship, which allows a student to serve as program evaluation assistant with Judith Owens-Manley, the associate director for community research at the Levitt Center, for the HOPE VI Project in Utica. Jenney Stringer '08 received the Community Service Fellowship, which focuses on providing support to initiatives in the Utica area. Her project, creating community gardens in the refugee housing units of Utica's F.X. Matt Apartments, was also conducted with Owens-Manley.