STUDENT INVOLVEMENT IN FACULTY RESEARCH CONTINUES THROUGHOUT SUMMER
Classes are no longer in session, but many at Haverford College are continuing their educational endeavors throughout June, July, and August. More than 80 students are participating in faculty research projectsâ€”an opportunity offered only to graduate students in most schoolsâ€”during the summer.
The projects span a variety of topics in the humanities and the physical and social sciences. Some students are stationed at the KINSC's labs, learning to visualize proteins or exploring the properties of slowly sheared granular molecules (substances made up of solid particles such as sand, rice, sugar, or gravel). Some students are at computers, creating models to update an astronomical map of the sky or writing mathematical software programs to study objects called "symmetric functions." And others may be found in the library or in faculty offices, helping professors design courses on American Judaism or researching African-American poetry.
Many students have similar goals and reasons for pursuing summer research opportunities. Several have their post-Haverford education in mind, like Laura Chaddock '06, who is helping Assistant Professor of Psychology Rebecca Compton examine the transfer of emotional and non-emotional information between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.“I am planning to attend graduate school in psychology, so my summer experience will help me learn to conduct psychological research,” she says.
Jeff Ratliff '06 is also assisting Compton with her research, and hopes his participation will have a positive effect on his present and future education.“I'm pre-med, so the idea of doing research within my major and appealing to medical schools at the same time is exciting,” he says.
The undergraduate researchers also want their summer projects to help them grow as scholars. Timothy Lee '06 applied for summer research to develop specific lab skills, and feels privileged to be working with Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology John Wagner, studying the different signal transduction pathways that regulate cellular growth.“It's great to work in a group because you have other people who provide suggestions and encouragement, people who will catch your mistakes and from whom you can learn a lot,” he says.
The benefits of student involvement in faculty research are also reaped by their professors.“Summer research assistants keep me on my toes,” says Rebecca Compton.“Haverford students are hardworking and eager to learn, and they often have creative ideas that help me to see my own projects in a new light.”
“My past assistants have uncovered new material and suggested ways of presenting material I had worked over,” says Professor Emeritus of Political Science Harvey Glickman, whose student Gabriel Neri '05 is compiling a list of African leaders of the past decade for inclusion in the expanded edition of Glickman's book Political Leaders of Africa.“I am delighted that a number of students have utilized their experience in seeking and attaining graduate degrees in political science.”
“A strong student will inevitably go beyond the mechanical tasks of collecting information and contribute to my understanding of the research topic, thanks to her or his insights and perspective,” says Associate Professor of History Alexander Kitroeff. His assistant, Constantinos Vassiliou '06, is in Athens, Greece (his hometown), collecting information on the country's past and present role in the Olympic movement and helping Kitroeff prepare a revised edition of his recent book, Wrestling With the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics.
“By the same token,” Kitroeff adds,“my relationship with a student assistant also offers me a â€˜teaching moment,' in that I am guiding the student through methods of historical research and ways in which historical questions are formulated and pursued.”