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Lab Crawl Opens Doors to Explore


Communications/Marketing Office student writer Claire Williams ’25 took part in the Taylor Science Center’s recent Lab Crawl and might have found her future major and a research opportunity as a result. See what she has to say about the event.

With representation from Hamilton’s eight major science departments, the Science Research Lab Crawl on Jan. 28 gave students space to learn about student-faculty research opportunities or simply get a better understanding of the science departments.

For me, the event cemented my interest in a new intended major and introduced me to a potential semester research position. 

Going into the event, I didn’t expect to get much out of it. I went more to keep my friend company than anything else, maybe learn a thing or two along the way. But after an hour walking through various rooms, I left feeling more excited about my Hamilton future than when I received my acceptance letter —which is to say extremely excited. 

That enthusiasm started in the geosciences room where national park stickers were being handed out. But my excitement over a new sticker quickly morphed into excitement over a new concentration. Associate Professor of Geosciences Catherine Beck stood at the head of a lab table, speaking to a handful of students about summer research positions. She talked first of the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) lab used to analyze various rocks, sediments, and soils; then she mentioned a more field-focused research project in which students could collect and analyze rocks and sediments from local waterways. 

Thanks to my current introductory geosciences course, I already knew that I connected with the subject material. But for me, there’s a striking difference between liking the material and liking the research formed around said material. The research opportunities Professor Beck presented seemed like something I would genuinely and fully enjoy, unlike most other science research I’d heard about in the past. And to my surprise, there were opportunities I could take advantage of this summer since the Geosciences Department often selects rising sophomores for summer research. 

For me, the event cemented my interest in a new intended major and introduced me to a potential semester research position. 

I left the room thinking about a future with a geoscience concentration, something I would do in conjunction with an environmental studies concentration. After going through some neuroscience rooms for my friend, we ended up in the ES room. There, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Heather Kropp explained her research on the melting in the Arctic and a newer data project meant to analyze how various geographic areas have changed over time. One thing led to another, and she was explaining a potential semester position assisting with her newer project.

I was surprised to learn that I might be able to do research this summer; I was shocked that it could happen as a second-semester freshman. But I now have a meeting with Professor Kropp to explore the position’s details, something that would never have happened if I had decided the Lab Crawl wasn’t worth my time. 

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